Donating medical equipment: report

This report by the Chief Medical Officer reviews the standards required for medical equipment donations to low- and middle-income countries. It includes a 10 step guide to the donation journey and links to key guidance.

Short Life Working Group Recommendations

The working group performed a detailed review of the feedback from the surveys and interviews, along with a literature review. The survey results showed that there are a number of organisations delivering meaningful donations of medical equipment in a way that is aligned with the principles set out at the start of this report and in a way that genuinely enhances patient care.

However, there are also organisations operating in a way detrimental to their good intentions, and not leading to the improved healthcare expected with the recipient country. From the limited evidence of this review, the positive difference to patient outcomes may be overshadowed by the burden of obsolete medical equipment.

The working group agreed the need for clarity of guidance given the disparity in practice.

This review made clear that the existing guidance is sufficient to allow anyone to make a safe and meaningful donation of medical equipment. While the guidance is not always in one place, not always up-to-date and sometimes difficult to consume due to the size of the documents; it is, nonetheless, accurate and sufficient to enable safe donations to be made.

Therefore, adding another set of guidance would be an unnecessary exercise, and risk adding more confusion to anyone wishing to donate.

The working group therefore do not recommend the production of new guidance.

Recommendation 1:

There should not be new guidance written, as there is sufficient existing authoritative guidance to allow the safe donation of medical equipment.

The question that followed is why some organisations do not follow the guidance? The answer to this is believed to be a combination of factors. Namely a lack of awareness, a lack of understanding of the multiple aspects of donating medical equipment, difficulties in processing and implementing the detailed existing guidance, and/or a lack of capacity.

The need to help guide potential donors through this process was therefore explored and considered as an outcome from the review. The working group believe that the provision of additional support to any organisation or individual wishing to make a donation of medical equipment, by way of an accessible 'step-by-step' framework that takes the donor through the donation journey, would add value to current guidance. Such a framework can signpost to existing guidance without needing to re-write or update it. Importantly, it can also give the potential donor clear consideration points regarding the donation process. This may benefit any donor who embarks on a donation before realising the scale of the process and is unable to meet the essential elements of an ethical and safe donation.

The working group therefore recommend the production of a simple guide to making a donation that takes donors through the different steps of the process without re-writing the existing guidance. The framework was tested in three focus groups. A revised text version is available in Appendix 1 with the infographic version available as a separate document.

Recommendation 2:

There should be a new high-level guide written to take donors through the key steps of making a donation, helping them find key guidance and also making it easy to exit the process as needed.

The working group considered how to ensure that best practice is always deployed and how the high-level guide would help achieve this. There are already organisations dedicated to the maintenance of high-quality guidance for medical donations who offer this information for free to potential donors including the World Health Organisation, Scottish Malawi Partnership[2] and the Tropical Health and Education Trust.

In addition there is a training program in development by the US based charity 'Partners in Quality Medical Donations' (PQMD). The group consider that this short 'Medical Donations 101' course should be explored and any donating organisation encouraged to complete.

The working group therefore recommend that further work be done to identify and assess the quality of the PQMD course, or any other relevant course should one become available, and to consider whether completion of this should be a prerequisite step in making a donation of medical equipment. An International Development partner such as the Scottish International Development Alliance could be engaged to explore opportunities for facilitating such a recommendation.

Recommendation 3:

Opportunities for collaboration should be explored with organisations dedicated to the maintenance of high-quality guidance to develop an education & training offer for Scottish stakeholders involved with donations dissemination.

Finally, the working group accept that work and acceptable standards in this field do develop over time and recommend a review of this guidance is carried out every three years to ensure it remains up to date.



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