HC Deb 28 January 2003 vol 398 cc825-6W
Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the total amount of surgical equipment disposed of each year; and what steps are being taken to recycle this equipment. [91465]

Ms Blears

The Department does not hold central figures on the amount of surgical equipment disposed of each year.

Each national health service trust decides how to dispose of its surgical equipment. The NHS takes into account health and safety issues, such as risk of cross-infection when recycling or reselling surgical equipment. These issues include the possibility of the transfer of infections such as vCJD, HIV. hepatitis and the need for ensuring that staff using the equipment are properly trained.

The risks associated with the re-selling of surgical instruments could well outweigh any potential cost savings.

The Medical Devices Agency has issued guidelines entitled "DB9801 Supplement 2 Guidance on the sale, transfer of ownership and disposal of used medical devices". The key points addressed in the guidance are:

  • Transfer of ownership (sale or donation).
  • Decommissioning.
  • Disposal as waste.