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Volume 957: debated on Tuesday 7 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the loss sustained currently by the National Health Service as a result of the failure of patients to return crutches and other equipment temporarily loaned to them by hospitals; and if he will issue a circular to health authorities advising that a deposit be lodged for the loan of such equipment.

No information about losses incurred is collected centrally. Most surgical and medical equipment issued to patients through hospitals is provided free on loan and health authorities are left to make their own arrangements for recovery of items. There is no legislative authority for the imposition of a deposit and, since such a charge could deter some patients from accepting these essential aids, it is not proposed to change the present position.