It is estimated that 300 wheelchairs and expensive pressure relief cushions - worth in excess of £250,000 - have not been returned to the NHS and instead are either thrown away or given to charity shops or even sold in car boot sales.
Wheelchair technicians and engineers are urging members of the public across West Lancashire, Chorley and South Ribble to telephone the wheelchair hotline number 01695 556 492 - so that staff can go out to collect the unused wheelchairs.
The 300 missing wheelchairs are each valued between £300 and £1,500. In addition, there are a handful of wheelchairs which are battery powered and each worth as much as £2,000.
Yvonne Baron, Wheelchair Service Manager, at Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust said:
“The NHS is losing out on thousands of pounds worth of wheelchairs each year.
“It is a great source of frustration to staff that the NHS has to spend cash replacing items not returned. As well as costing so much, the failure to return these items when they are no longer needed can lead to delays in making them available to others.
“We would urge patients or family members who no longer need the NHS wheelchair to telephone the hotline number - 01695 556 492 - and we will arrange for one of our engineers to go out and collect them at a convenient time to you.”