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Making it easier for patients to get the right walking aid

25 October 2023

Patients are to benefit from an agreement to introduce standard ways to describe the size of walking aid products and measure users for them.

In a project led by NHS Supply Chain, working in partnership with the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) and with the endorsement of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, suppliers of walking aid products have agreed to:

  • A common set of terms to describe the height and width of products.
  • The sizing measurements covered by each of these terms, such as narrow or standard width, or small, medium, large or extra-large height.
  • Standard ways of measuring patients to ensure the correct size walking aid is selected for them.

Suppliers previously measured walking aid sizes in different ways which created unnecessary confusion when patients were being fitted with a walking aid but also made it harder for physiotherapists and other NHS staff to order the correct sizes.

Our idea was to engage with the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) members, professional bodies and their members, suppliers and walking aid users to agree a way forward which just makes life easier for everyone involved.

All walking aid products on the NHS Supply Chain catalogue now use the new standard description terms and sizing guides, making ordering the correct products easier. All suppliers and distributors are now being asked to implement the agreed approach too.

Simon Ball, Clinical Engagement and Implementation Manager, NHS Supply Chain

This new initiative of standardising terms and measurements for walking aid products isn’t just about simplifying processes; it’s about enhancing the overall healthcare experience for patients. Every patient should receive the right walking aid, tailored to their specific needs.

BHTA and our Independent Living Section are proud to have been part of this project.

David Stockdale, Chief Executive Officer, British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA)

For more information

See our Useful Links section for a guide the BHTA has produced to inform suppliers of the new approach, which sets out all the precise measurements within the agreed terminology.


Media Enquiries

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Corporate Communications Coordinator

07808 273 298

Notes to editors

All information in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

See our useful links section for more information relating to this press release.

About NHS Supply Chain

NHS Supply Chain is part of the NHS family and manage the sourcing, delivery and supply of healthcare products, services and food for NHS trusts and healthcare organisations across England and Wales.

We manage more than 8 million orders per year across more than 129,000 order points and over 16,000 locations. We deliver over 35 million lines of picked goods to the NHS annually and our systems consolidate orders from over 1100 suppliers. This enables us to bring value to our NHS partners, helping them save time and money in removing duplication of overlapping contracts.

NHS Supply Chain aims to leverage the collective buying power of the NHS to drive savings and provide a standardised range of clinically assured, quality products at the best value.

NHS Supply Chain is committed to enabling the NHS to deliver safe and excellent patient care.

Supply Chain Coordination Ltd (SCCL) is the company at the heart of NHS Supply Chain. It provides oversight and operational management for NHS Supply Chain and its service providers. 

SCCL is the legal entity through which NHS Supply Chain undertakes its procurement services and transacts with customers and suppliers.

Whilst its shares are owned by NHS England, SCCL is a separate organisation.