Strug­gling NHS hit by new clin­i­cal waste cri­sis

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Gra­ham Grant Home Af­fairs Editor

‘Threat to pa­tient health’

THE NHS was in tur­moil last night af­ter hos­pi­tals be­gan stock­pil­ing body parts in mor­tu­ar­ies amid a clin­i­cal waste cri­sis.

Health­care En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices (HES) has lost its con­tract for the re­moval of hospi­tal waste in Scot­land af­ter con­cerns over its per­for­mance.

It ad­mit­ted two months ago it had failed to in­cin­er­ate hun­dreds of tons of waste and lost its NHS con­tract south of the Bor­der.

Yes­ter­day, it emerged con­tin­gency plans had been ac­ti­vated for stor­age of clin­i­cal waste in trail­ers at Scot­tish hos­pi­tals, af­ter HES ceased pick-ups.

Sources told the Mail that the Span­ish com­pany Tradebe had won the NHS Scot­land con­tract.

Most British hos­pi­tals have con­tracts with in­cin­er­a­tion firms to col­lect and dis­pose of clin­i­cal waste rather than do­ing it them­selves. The ma­te­rial in­cludes body parts, old drugs and used equip­ment.

An NHS Scot­land source said: ‘The con­tin­gency plans were drawn up some time ago and have now been ac­ti­vated.

‘Hos­pi­tals are bring­ing in trail­ers which will be kept in the grounds to store clin­i­cal waste on site, while body parts will be put in mor­tu­ar­ies un­til the new firm can take over.

‘Of­fi­cially the HES con­tract is not up un­til March next year but it seems their pick-ups have stopped in the in­terim.

‘So there is a lot of con­cern over how long we are go­ing to have to store waste – and if we are go­ing to be able to source suf­fi­cient num­bers of trail­ers.’

Ear­lier this year, HES, based near Shotts, La­nark­shire, was sub­ject to a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion but claimed it was the vic­tim of a ‘witch-hunt’.

Yes­ter­day, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Garry Pet­ti­grew said: ‘We pro­vided an ex­cep­tional ser­vice to the NHS. Waste was up­lifted daily and the spe­cially de­signed waste bins used were then thor­oughly cleaned and re­turned to the wards and clin­ics.

‘Now, med­i­cal waste is be­ing stock­piled in NHS hos­pi­tals and there are no fa­cil­i­ties for wash­ing the waste bins. Dirty bins are be­ing taken back into wards and clin­ics and the threat to pa­tient health is dan­ger­ous.

‘We have a hard-work­ing, ded­i­cated and loyal work­force of more than 350 peo­ple whose fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity has been sac­ri­ficed in an at­tempt to cover up a po­lit­i­cal scan­dal.

‘I am call­ing on the Scot­tish Govern­ment to launch an im­me­di­ate, in­de­pen­dent pub­lic in­quiry into what has gone on here.’

Tradebe said: ‘There hasn’t been a for­mal an­nounce­ment, so we are un­able to com­ment.’

Scot­tish Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said: ‘This is a to­tally un­ac­cept­able sit­u­a­tion that must be stopped im­me­di­ately. What sort of coun­try do we live in where we are see­ing clin­i­cal waste be­ing stored in trail­ers in hospi­tal grounds?

‘If HES is un­able to ful­fil its con­tract obli­ga­tions, then SNP min­is­ters must in­ter­vene on the grounds of pub­lic safety.’

A Scot­tish Govern­ment spokesman said: ‘Full con­tin­gency plans for the man­age­ment of clin­i­cal waste are now in place across NHS Scot­land.

‘This will en­sure that all waste con­tin­ues to be stored, col­lected and dis­posed of ap­pro­pri­ately.

‘Con­tin­gency mea­sures en­sure that en­vi­ron­men­tal and hu­man health are ap­pro­pri­ately pro­tected at all times.’

‘To­tally un­ac­cept­able’

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