AN ELDERLY man from Bromley tried to return a Zimmer frame to the hospital that supplied it - but was told to throw it away.

John Parke, of Hayes Wood Avenue, was admitted to Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) earlier this year after falling down the stairs and cracking his pelvis.

Now recovered, the former scientist said he phoned the PRUH to organise returning the walking aid but was told policy disallowed it.

The 88-year-old said it was both a bad use of time and money and, although he praised the NHS and the care he received, felt the rule was "preposterous".

He said: "When I no longer needed it I tried to return it only to be told they didn’t take it back - I should dump it.

"It’s spotless. I think it’s a terrible waste. The person I spoke to agreed with me. She said it’s something to do with infections."

Dr Parke said the frame could be wiped down and disinfected in ten minutes - even though he didn’t suffer any open wounds and there would be no chance of contamination anyway.

He added: "Let’s not pussyfoot about this - somebody with a pedantic mind has taken on this policy. It’s ridiculous."

A PRUH spokeswoman said the hospital understood the importance of using resources wisely but said the safety and wellbeing of patients was paramount.

She said: "We would like to thank the patient for offering to return his walking frame. However, whilst the risk is low, walking frames can buckle if they come under too much pressure over a prolonged period of time.

"It is also very difficult for our staff to predict the lifespan of a walking frame as it depends on a number of factors, such as the weight of the person and how often they use it. So, for the continued safety of all our patients, our current policy is not to use them again."

She added more expensive equipment, such as heart monitors, are reused after being checked and cleaned but to do so with items such as Zimmer frames would not be cost efficient.

Dr Parke said he now intends to see whether a charity would be interested in having his frame.