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UK health body excludes remanufactured cartridges

May 21, 2015

Scan 16 Feb 2015 10_38-page5The Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is putting labels on newly-installed printers prohibiting “generic toners”.

The label (pictured above) reads: “BROTHER/HP PRINTERS. Please use genuine consumables only, as generic toners invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.”

Alan Castro, CEO of remanufacturer LaserCare Anglia, emailed the CCG after coming across the label, to ask whether the ‘generics’ were referring to compatibles, and to explain that remanufactured cartridges have “simply […] undergone a process of refurbishment” as “the toner and the OPC drum are the only components that we actually replace. All the rest are original components as Brother intended them to be without alteration”.

A representative of the CCG responded that it was transitioning to using products from printer manufacturers offering five year warranties and discounted toner, while only “genuine toner” supplied by the NHS would be allowed, to ensure the warranty was not invalidated. The labels in question are set to be put on the majority of printers over the next 12 months as part of a replacement programme, as HP printers are installed in medical practices.

Castro noted that, in terms of procuring a cost saving for the CCG, “however good the deal is on OEM cartridges they will always be much more expensive than our remanufactured products”. On HP’s warranty help webpage it is stated that “the use of a non-HP or refilled cartridge does not affect either the HP Limited Warranty to the end-user customer or any HP support contract with the end-user customer for the printer”, and Castro asked: “If HP allow[s] the use of non-HP cartridges under their warranties, why doesn’t the CCG?”

The CCG clarified that its objective was to ensure IT assets remain in service for at least their warranted life, and that to achieve this it plans to have printer repairs done under the manufacturer’s warranty, owing to a lack of funding available for replacing printers. The representative added that “the future” will entail the CCG providing hardware and practices being “responsible for their best use, maintenance and care”.

Castro told The Recycler that the CCG’s IT policy is being “aggressively pursued” and noted that throughout his email discussion with the CCG, there had been “no hint of trying to hide the issue and no sense of embarrassment at what they seem to be doing could be illegal”. He also mentioned the label to delegates at the UKCRA meeting earlier this month.

Vincent Van Dijk, Secretary General of ETIRA, sent “a strongly-worded letter” last week to the CCG’s chief executive advising him that the policy is illegal and to “withdraw their edict forthwith”.

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