Roll Cage and Tote Box Management

NHS Supply Chain uses roll cages and plastic tote boxes to deliver its products to the majority of its customers. As well as reducing the need for packaging, in the longer term these re-useable containers are cheaper and more durable than delivering in cardboard boxes or on pallets.

Failure to return them can impact on the quality of service we can provide. Using them for activities for which they are not intended can also have serious Health and Safety implications. For this reason containers are supplied on the understanding that they are used only for the purpose of transporting consumable products supplied by NHS Supply Chain. They are not to be used for long-term storage or filing or any other internal activities. The loss of containers presents us with an ongoing challenge. Indeed, NHS Supply Chain spends in excess of £1 million on roll cages and tote boxes each year. Much of this is to replace roll cages and tote boxes that have been taken out of our system by trusts and third parties. We are constantly looking to reduce this annual spend through the promotion of effective container management. This can only be achieved with your co-operation.

All containers are marked as ‘Property of NHS Supply Chain’ (or ‘NHS Supplies/ NHS Logistics Authority’, their predecessor organisation). Some of them are marked with our old strapline, ‘Delivering healthcare products throughout the National Health Service’. In general, the wire roll cages are of a gold colour with one set of red and one set of blue wheels. The tote boxes are either green or blue and will normally be accompanied by a flat lid.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Check deliveries against delivery notes
  • Deliver goods to their respective destinations as soon as possible
  • Empty roll cages and tote boxes of all goods
  • Return tote boxes and empty roll cages folded down to the delivery location, stores or R&D point. Where possible return tote boxes in an empty NHS Supply Chain roll cage.
  • Fold down roll cages to save space and reduce restrictions in working areas
  • Stack empty tote boxes together inside a designated roll cage in an inverted manner so as to prevent ingress of dirt, dust, rain water or other contaminates getting in.
  • If necessary, secure roll cages together with a chain and padlock to prevent theft
  • Return all containers on the next available NHS Supply Chain/NHS Logistics’ vehicle.


  • Use roll cages for collecting dirty and clean linen
  • Use roll cages for collecting medical waste
  • Use roll cages for the collection of general rubbish
  • Use roll cages as mobile equipment lockers
  • Use roll cages and tote boxes for storing goods or for filing medical records
  • Use tote boxes as waste liquid collectors
  • Use tote boxes as temporary steps
  • Allow others to use roll cages or tote boxes for their own purpose
  • Leave roll cages or tote boxes unattended, particularly in corridors or stairwells.

Repeated failure to abide by these requirements may lead to cages being withdrawn and replaced with pallets on future deliveries.

Image showing Roll Cage and Tote Box