Clinical Waste 2019 – In December 2018, Scottish-based medical waste disposal company Health Environment Services (HES) was forced to cease trading following the scandal over stockpiled clinical waste. This included human body parts, across dozens of NHS trusts. Despite putting contingency measures in place to ensure clinical waste continues to be disposed of safely, the sector must now fill the void left by HES, which was responsible for the disposal of around 25-30 per cent of NHS waste.
Clinical Waste Scandal – According to the BBC, latest estimates suggest up to 300 tonnes of clinical waste and 10 tonnes of anatomical waste are still piled up at the HES plants in Dundee and Shotts, North Lanarkshire. Specialist teams are being drafted in to help clear the waste using temporary containers as waste repositories; which is evaporating the £1m ‘remedy fund’ allocated by the Department of Health and Social Care back in October 2018.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham told MSPs Sepa is investigating the matter, and that most of the human waste was at the firm’s Shotts headquarters, which would result in a total clearance and disposal costs estimated at £250,000.
Inspection reports from the Environment Agency about the practices at facilities run by Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) reveal the gravity of the backlog of unprocessed waste from dozens of NHS hospitals, which built up over years. The reports also confirm that anatomical waste from NHS hospitals was not stored in fridges
According to HSJ
“The NHS is now at the mercy of the remaining contractors in the market, whose prices have and will continue to rise when demand is at a premium. For NHS trusts, the best scenario is that the financial impact amounts to a few unimportant alterations on the balance sheet, which could be offset elsewhere.
However, there is concern among sector sources [HSJ] has spoken to about the knock-on effect the price increase will have on other care providers, such as pharmacies, dentists, and care homes.
These industries walk on a far narrower financial ledge than secondary care providers, and an unexpected increase in waste disposal costs could have serious consequences.”
Questions remain about how long the clear up will take and what will happen to backlogs of waste reported to be building up at NHS sites.