Welwyn Garden City hospital slammed over health and safety ruling

PUBLISHED: 06:30 31 October 2011

Deborah Cutler, Richard Cutler

Deborah Cutler, Richard Cutler


A COUPLE were left gobsmacked when staff at the QE2 Hospital refused to take back a pair of crutches, due to barmy health and safety rules.

Richard and Deborah Cutler could not believe their ears when they were told to keep or even BIN them.

The crutches had been supplied by the WGC hospital’s A&E department after Richard, 30, had broken his foot.

A sticker on the walking aids instructed the Hatfield couple to return the crutches to A&E when they had finished with them.

But Deborah was stunned when a receptionist told her they would not be accepted for “health and safety reasons”.

Deborah, 28, said: “She said we should have been told that originally and that the sticker was on there by mistake.

“So I asked her what I should do with them and she said keep them or throw them away!

“I asked friends including a doctor, an assistant practice manager at a GPs’ and a radiographer and they all could not believe it or didn’t know why – they could be sterilised if that was the issue and they could be structurally checked before being re-issued.”

Crutches cost £10 a pair – money Deborah said the cash-strapped NHS could ill-afford to waste.

“No wonder the NHS is in trouble,” she added.

An East and North Herts NHS Trust spokesman admitted A&E staff should have taken the crutches back.

But, he said, recently-introduced rules from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) meant they might not have been able to be re-used.

He said: “This is because they often can get stresses, and damage to the metalwork can risk their safety when used by more than one person.

“We can now only accept back crutches when we have a clear record of when and to whom they are issued.

“Even then the HSE guidance places strict timings on the length of time available before we are no longer able to pass them on to another person.”

The spokesman added: “The emergency department team should have accepted them back for recycling, even if the crutches in question couldn’t be given to anyone else.

“We’re very sorry for any confusion caused, but we now have to comply with the HSE’s guidance.”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Welwyn Hatfield Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Welwyn Hatfield Times