Hospitals’ bizarre lost property

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FALSE teeth, hearing aids and even kettles are just some of the thing that are routinely going missing in Wigan’s hospitals.

A Freedom of Information request made to Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) revealed that more than £3,500 of patient, staff and trust property was reported missing last year.

In 2011/12 some £3,537 of equipment was reported missing or stolen – including 19 incidents of property belonging to patients and nine involving staff property.

Of this, WWL paid out £2,857 in compensation payments to 10 people for items that had gone missing – the largest of which was for £700.

The Freedom of Information request revealed that other items listed as missing included jewellery, spectacles, handbags, wallets and purses, clothing, TVs and even microwaves.

WWL say that the police are involved in such incidents where appropriate.

A spokesman for WWL said: “The procedure for missing or stolen property is that a Datix incident is generated; it then gets investigated by the relevant manager or department lead and finalised.

“If it requires police or other agency intervention then it is escalated accordingly. “

The news comes after calls were made on a national level for more to be done to stop millions of pounds worth of essential kit is being stolen every year across the country.

While the figures may come as a shock, WWL have not suffered anywhere near as much as some hospital trusts who have incurred some extremely expensive losses of equipment.

In June last year, for example, NHS North Central London admitted that an apparently unencrypted laptop, containing details of more than eight million patients, was one of 20 machines reported stolen from a storeroom

And, at least one operation had to be postponed at the Central Middlesex Hospital last year after vital surgical sterilising equipment, worth more than £250,000, was stolen in a series of thefts over several months.

The Department of Health maintains that enough is being done to tackle the problem.

A spokeswoman said: “Any theft of NHS property is taken extremely seriously and all NHS bodies must have proper plans in place to prevent and report theft.”