‘Disappearing wheelchairs’ spark need for supermarket style coin-slot system at Norfolk hospital

16:30 09 January 2013

General view of the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston, Norfolk

October 2011

Picture: James Bass

General view of the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston, Norfolk October 2011 Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

The James Paget University Hospital (JPH) in Gorleston has introduced 30 new wheelchairs featuring a supermarket-style coin system.

A lack of wheelchairs prompted the move, with a review of provision at the Gorleston hospital carried out late last year.

It highlighted that 10 additional wheelchairs bought in autumn 2012 had all disappeared by the end of November.

From this month, the hospital is introducing the coin-slot wheelchairs.

In order to take a wheelchair people will need a pound coin - or a trolley token - that will be returned when the wheelchair is brought back.

There is both a change machine and a cash machine located in the hospital’s main entrance.

The 30 new wheelchairs - costing £500 each - will be located in the main entrance, A&E and at other key entrances.

The new wheelchairs will be phased into use over the next two weeks.

They have been bought through charitable funds.

Hospital volunteers and staff took part in reviewing three different types of wheelchairs against a range of criteria including ease of use, maintenance, infection control and health and safety.

Volunteers and staff chose a Bristol Maid wheelchair, which also came recommended by hospitals in Newcastle, as the best overall option. The chairs are made in the UK and are of a solid, welded construction.

The current, older chairs will be allocated to wards and clinical departments around the hospital.

Public governor Christine Smith said: “As governors we represent the public and we raised our concern about a lack of wheelchairs. We’re really pleased to see the hospital taking this action.

“Sadly, the chairs do seem to disappear and it’s a problem in all hospitals. We very much hope these new chairs and the coin-operated system will help make sure that the chairs stay where they should be”.


  • Sounds like a bargain to me. Is there any restriction on how many you can have at £1 each? Exactly where will they be located?

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    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Leave it to the JPH to pie quay the place up.

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    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Will a pound make any difference to someone who wants a wheelchair ?

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    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Stupid idea. all this will do is inconvienience people who need wheelchairs. I avoid supermarkets that have coin trollies as 9 times out of 10 I dont have the required pound coin to get one. Whilst there may be a cash machine and a change machine at the hospital my experience of trying to pay the extortionate parking fees is that often the change machine is not working :(

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    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Pie quay's were watching you. The JPH had these fitted with passive GPS trackers,enabling them to locate around the hospital to improve effecency. I am surprised the aurthorities haven't located and prosecuted yet or maybe they are being returned.

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    Paul Morley

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • I have a few comments to make on this article. I totally agree of the £1 system with hospital wheelchairs, they genuinely cost around £500 a piece, irrelevant to if they are sold to the NHS or to the private sector. In response to the comment by 'Katman' I totally disagree it will be an inconvenience. It may be a surprise for the first few weeks, but when people get used to it, I see no problem. The fact you avoid supermarkets which you need a pound for a trolley is simply ridiculous. The supermarkets do not want this, they HAVE to do this, otherwise shopping trolleys get stolen and abandoned, resulting in charges by the council. Its the same for hospitals, wheelchairs go missing and cannot be accounted for, £1 (bear in mind its refunded) is a small price to pay for the security of wheelchairs. Do not forget, as tax payers, these are YOUR wheelchairs and any theft comes out of your pocket. Its a shame, but you simply have to accept this is the way forward.

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    Marc Yerrell

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • The way forward is to make the wheelchairs unique to the Hospital, so that they easily recognized and not worth stealing.

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    Orson Carter

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • £500 each? Sounds like a huge amount of money per wheelchair. Sounds like NHS buying is similar to that of the MoD.

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    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Perhaps now the smoker's out the front will think twice about hogging a wheelchair so that they can have their nicotine fix then walk back to the ward's because they are quite able to stand. The wheel chair will then be freed up for those who need them.

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    Thursday, January 10, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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