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BHTA Independent Living Section collaborates with NHS Supply Chain to standardise descriptions and sizing for walking aids

Last Updated on 29/11/2023 by Samantha Lewis

[London, 25 October 2023] – The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) Independent Living Section is pleased to announce a collaboration with the NHS Supply Chain to establish a standardised system for describing the height and width of products, sizing terms, and patient measurement procedures for walking aids. This initiative aims to streamline the process of selecting the right walking aid products for both patients and healthcare professionals.

The BHTA Independent Living Section, in a project led by NHS Supply Chain, has developed a set of terms to describe the height and width of walking aid products. This standardisation will eliminate confusion and ambiguity in product descriptions, ensuring clarity for both suppliers and healthcare providers.

The collaboration has defined the sizing measurements associated with each term. Terms such as narrow or standard width, as well as small, medium, large, and extra-large heights, are now uniformly defined, making it easier for healthcare professionals to accurately assess patient needs and recommend the most suitable walking aids.

These developments have been integrated into the NHS Supply Chain catalogue. As a result, all walking aid products within the catalogue now utilise the new standard description terms and sizing guides. This significant improvement simplifies the process of ordering the correct products, reducing the risk of errors and improving patient care.

Furthermore, the BHTA Independent Living Section and the NHS Supply Chain are extending an invitation to all suppliers and distributors to join this important initiative. By implementing the agreed-upon approach, suppliers and distributors can contribute to a more efficient and standardised process across the industry.

David Stockdale, CEO of BHTA, said “BHTA and our Independent Living Section are proud to have worked on this project with NHS Supply Chain.

We are excited about the positive impact that this collaboration will have on the healthcare industry. Standardising the terminology and sizing measurements for walking aids will greatly improve the ordering process, enhance patient care, and streamline operations for healthcare professionals and suppliers alike. Every patient should receive the right walking aid that is tailored to their specific needs. This new approach should simplify that process.”

Simon Ball, Clinical Engagement and Implementation Manager and Advanced Practice Physiotherapist, said: “It’s been fantastic working with members of the BHTA, suppliers and key stakeholders from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy to agree on a standard way to measure patients for their walking aids, as well as agreeing on common terminology to be used across the walking aid product ranges when describing heights and widths of products.  

“It will benefit patient safety, with healthcare professionals being advised to measure walking aids in the same way. It also simplifies the decisions on product selection, ensuring patients receive the right aid first time therefore reducing waste and improving patient experience.”

The new, standardised terms and measurements can be viewed on the BHTA website, here:


Notes for editors

About the BHTA: Representing over 400 companies in the healthcare and assistive technology industry, the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) supports its members to help ensure people have access to the right product and service, at the right time, at the right value. All BHTA members are committed to the association’s Code of Practice, requiring companies to offer a level of service above and beyond the legal requirements. The BHTA collaborates with members, policymakers, and stakeholders to shape a healthier future for all.  

About NHS Supply Chain: NHS Supply Chain is part of the NHS family and manages the sourcing, delivery and supply of healthcare products, services and food for NHS trusts and healthcare organisations across England and Wales.

We manage more than 8 million orders per year across more than 129,000 order points and over 16,000 locations. We deliver over 35 million lines of picked goods to the NHS annually and our systems consolidate orders from over 1100 suppliers. This enables us to bring value to our NHS partners, helping them save time and money in removing duplication of overlapping contracts.

NHS Supply Chain aims to leverage the collective buying power of the NHS to drive savings and provide a standardised range of clinically assured, quality products at the best value.

NHS Supply Chain is committed to enabling the NHS to deliver safe and excellent patient care.