Milton Keynes Hospital is set to introduce supermarket trolley-style locks to its wheelchairs from Monday.
The hospital says the scheme will make it easier for patients to get a wheelchair when they need one at a handful of designated ‘wheelchair parks’.
The hospital is also giving local businesses the opportunity to ‘sponsor a wheelchair’ for one year at a price of almost £700, in light of some going missing and the cost of replacing them.
In response to patient feedback, the hospital says it is taking action to make sure enough wheelchairs are available where they are most likely to be needed.
New wheelchair parks will be opened on Monday and will be located around the hospital, including at the main entrance.
To help make sure the wheelchairs are returned to a wheelchair park, the supermarket trolley-style locks are being fixed to the wheelchairs.
The wheelchairs can be released by inserting a £1 coin and the patient can reclaim the money when the wheelchair is returned.
If the user does not have a £1 coin, they can ask a member of staff at the reception desk next to the wheelchair park to release a wheelchair for them.
Marc Yerrell, support team supervisor at the hospital, said: “Patients with poor mobility have told us that it can sometimes be difficult to find a wheelchair when they need one. We hope that the new wheelchair parks will solve this problem.
“No patient in need should be without a wheelchair, as staff will be able to release chairs for those without a £1 coin.”
The hospital is also selling coin tokens for £1 each, with all profits going to the Milton Keynes Hospital Charity, to further improve services for patients.
The coin tokens are available from the main entrance during the week of the launch and from the hospital’s Eaglestone Restaurant thereafter.
The hospital admits that some of its wheelchairs have gone missing in the past, and as it is unable to replace them all, local businesses are being offered the opportunity to sponsor a wheelchair for £669.50 a year.
The new wheelchair will sport a plaque bearing the name of the business.
“Having more wheelchairs will really help us to help our patients. We encourage local businesses to show their generosity by digging deep to sponsor a new wheelchair,” added Mr Yerrell.