When looking for new chairs for your intensive care, high dependency, or trauma unit, one of the first questions is - how much do new chairs cost?
We will do our best here to provide you with an overall guide on pricing so that you are better equipped to move forward with your project, whether it is a single chair purchase or a major investment in expansion or upgrade.
There are three costs to consider when looking for specialist seating:
- The initial purchase, including delivery and training costs
- Maintenance and repair costs during the lifetime of the chair
- Future value – will my chair have any value at the end of its life, maybe for trade-in?
Chairs suitable for intensive care units and specialist environments within hospitals, like many other types of equipment will vary widely according to their specification and capabilities.
Basic ward chairs, with limited (if any) adjustment, can cost between £250 and £800 depending on the size. At the lower end, chairs are likely to be standard sizing and at the higher end, bariatric / larger sizing with a matching weight limit.
Stepping up in price, adjustable ward chairs that have some functions that can alter (such as the backrest recline, drop-arms and an elevating leg rest), chairs between £900 and £2,000 are also likely to be mobile, meaning they have strong castor wheelbases and push handles, and can be used to move patients around, plus they are easily moved for storage and cleaning.
When looking at chairs that are in the range of £2,000 - £3,000, many of these will be more adjustable, and start to have features like electric / battery operation, high-adjustment and higher quality materials that make cleaning the chair easier and quicker. These types of chairs are likely to suit more dependent patients and help physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and nursing staff to carry out rehabilitation tasks that can shorten the length of stay and even leave hospital with higher functional strength.
As pricing increases for intensive care chairs, the top specification models which can cost between £4000 and £8000, the capability of the equipment changes massively. In this range, chairs will have advanced features like lay-flat, where the chair will recline to a bed / stretcher position, and electrically elevate in height so that pat-slide transfers can take place.
Width adjustment, shoulder supports, trunk supports (laterals) and legrest / footplate adjustment should all be part of chairs at this level.
There will also be a wide range of options and accessories available that can turn a chair into a mobile platform for critical care, which can make a huge difference to the recovery of the patient, and therefore their length of stay and treatment options.
Some examples of options on these types of chairs, within the £4000-£8000 range are:
- Oxygen cylinder holder
- Portable ventilator mounts
- Catheter bag / fluid bag support
- IV poles
- Neuro positioning packs (mouldable inserts for postural support)
- Different types of headrests
There is another level of specialist intensive care chair, sometimes called advanced rehabilitation chairs. These can cost upwards of £10,000 and maybe as high as £15,000.
Why would a chair cost this much? At this pricing level, expect to see some very specialist functions such as the ability to transfer patients laterally from bed to chair and then move the entire chair into a tilt table position. When spending £10,000 plus on a chair, you are really buying three pieces of equipment in one:
- A tilt in space chair
- A tilt table
- A transfer device
Maintenance and repair costs.
Once you have your new chair on the unit, and it is in use, it is important to keep it maintained properly. Unlike domestic furniture, medical chairs are usually classed as a Class 1 Medical Device and so it is essential keep it properly maintained. Whilst not having a service contract in place looks like it is saving money, it can be costly in terms of both deferred repairs, and in terms of patient and staff safety.
A service contract price depends on lots of variables:
- How many chairs are covered?
- How often are they maintained?
- Does the contract include ad-hoc callouts?
- Are parts covered, or are they extra?
- Response times
- Is my service contractor properly accredited and trained?
The range of prices would usually be in the range of £60 per year to £300 per year (per chair) depending on the level of cover provided and the quantities involved.
Some of the lower cost contractors “PAT TEST” medical chairs which is not only irrelevant/pointless, but against current regulations. Always ask if a proper electrical safety test is carried out, according to IEC 62353.
This is where you could see money saved (by PAT testing) is actually money wasted because the job is not getting done properly!
Other lifetime costs to think about.
Lower priced chairs, i.e. in the sub-£1000 bracket, likely have few moving parts so the maintenance costs are minimal. However, there will be upholstery items like the seat and backrest covers that can get damaged / worn, and therefore need replacing. Sometimes the costs of repair can be almost equal to the initial purchase.
On chairs that cost £2,000 upwards, you can ask if these are traditionally upholstered – traditional upholstery is where the covers are sewn into place and repairs will need to take place off site, which adds to the time out of service as well as the costs.
It makes more sense, if paying £2,000 and upwards, to buy chairs that have modular upholstery and that can have cover changes performed quickly on site.
An example would be an armrest rip on a traditional upholstered medical chair. To repair it, the whole chair would need to be taken away off site, and the transport costs alone could be £50 – £100. Then, because the chair has to be stripped down and then repaired, the repair, re-assembly and return could add another £100 - £200 to the cost.
Compare this to a modularly upholstered chair where the covers are kept in stock by the manufacturer. A ripped cover can be sent in the post (depending on the make and model), for around £100, and your EBME staff can change it, on the ward in around 10 mins.
At our office, we often hear about medical chairs that have been condemned by a technician either contracted to or employed by our hospital customers. When investigating the reason why the chair was scrapped, it is often the case that it was a simple repair, and for a small investment, the equipment could have been put back into use. In other cases, a chair has been scrapped when it could have been offered as trade-in, providing a valuable discount or saving to the hospital!
The amount of trade-in offered depends on a number of factors such as the overall condition of the frame, wheels, upholstery and motors or mechanisms, but we are always happy to appraise equipment and we hate to see equipment thrown out when it still has value back to the hospital and could start a second life somewhere else.