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Aids for Daily Living Framework Designed to Support the NHS Drive to Net Zero

23 November 2023

Aids for Daily Living have historically been seen as single patient use, however a lot of the products that sit under the framework can be cleaned and reissued safely without compromising care or product performance.

In 2022, pre-tender planning for the launch of the new Aids for Daily Living framework presented an opportunity to support the NHS ambition to become the world’s first carbon net zero national health system by 2045 as set out in the Delivering a Net Zero NHS report. The benefits of reusing walking aids are just one of the ways we’re supporting the NHS to reach their net zero target. NHS England has set a target of 40% of walking aids to be returned for reuse by 2025.

Supplier and NHS trust engagement revealed several challenges, limiting the return and reuse of products on the framework, especially walking aids.

The NHS Supply Chain framework team met regularly with the Walking Aids Working Group (WAWG)1, led by Nicole Fletcher (NHS England Sustainable Procurement Lead) which has been formed with clinical and procurement representatives to identify workable solutions to the challenges.

Through collaboration with NHS Supply Chain and NHS trusts and by using a market sounding exercise, we have identified the most effective solution for walking aids reuse, that is designed to maximise the return and reuse of these devices.

This framework provides confidence to patients that the walking aids they receive are safe for use and by keeping suitable devices in circulation, the NHS saves money and reduces its carbon.

Nicole Fletcher, NHS England Sustainable Procurement Lead

The NHS Supply Chain framework team formed further Expert Reference Groups (ERG) with members of the National Association of Equipment providers (NAEP), the special interest group AGILE of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) representing clinicians, with working with older people and the members of the Royal College of Occupational therapists (RCOT).

Further insight was gained through a national questionnaire, which had over 400 responses.

Solutions to Challenges Identified

  • Manufacturer guidance – Suppliers are required to provide cleaning and reuse information in the Information for Use (IFU). This was an essential feature on the product specification where reuse is appropriate.
  • Patient convenience – Linking up to the Recycle Now website to provide a QR code and post code checker to inform patients where their nearest reuse drop off point is.
  • ‘Patient awareness – 2022’ saw 54 NHS trusts, 14 local councils and suppliers link up as part of the annual Recycle Week to run local campaigns to collectively raise awareness of return and reuse schemes for walking aids.
  • Liability and Risk – NHS Resolution confirmed the low risk of reuse, with no liability claims recorded, and adequate cover provided by their insurance for trusts.
  • Best practice – Supported NHS England to develop their Walking Aid Reuse How To Guide2 for NHS trusts to share best practice on product reuse.
  • Service provision – Developed a managed service lot (36) to support trusts to collect, reuse and recycle.

Reuse services

Where reuse services are unsuitable for trusts and services to run inhouse, the introduction of Lot 36 will give them the ability to develop and procure a service to manage their product reuse. This can be specific for walking aid reuse or can expand to cover a whole Integrated Community Equipment Service (ICES).

The changes to this framework have been made with the patient in mind; providing an increased level of choice that will deliver long term benefits to the NHS.

For further information on the products available and purchasing procedures, please see our Useful Links section to refer to the Aids for Daily Living Contract Information Page.

The framework commenced 1 November 2023 and will run until 31 October 2025 with an option to extend for a further two years.

Trusts and services can add their designated reuse/recycle points to the WRAP postcode checker to support patients to locate their nearest drop off point for walking aids. Additional drop off points support wider coverage and make recycling easier. See our Useful Links section to access the form.

Contact our Hospital Care team to find out more.

Walking Aids Image

1WAWG is formed from The Royal Wolverhampton & Walsall NHS Trust, Black Country Alliance, Greater Manchester ICS, County Durham and Darlington NHS trust and Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

2Please note the How to Guide is accessible to NHS staff, to gain access to the NHS Futures Hub, NHS staff should email