Temporary clinical waste measures put in place

image copyrightReuters
image captionHES was contracted to process clinical waste in Scotland until April 2019

Temporary storage is being put in place at NHS sites across Scotland to cope with a potential backlog of clinical waste, it has emerged.

National Services Scotland (NSS) said it had taken responsibility for waste from every hospital, GP surgery, dental practice and pharmacy.

It comes after the contractor previously responsible for the work withdrew its service last week.

Healthcare Environmental Services Ltd (HES) ceased operations on Friday.

The firm said it had made repeated requests for an urgent meeting with NHS Scotland "to ensure continuation of the service" but it had not received a response.

It added that it was still hopeful that it could continue to work with the health service in Scotland.

In October, the company was stripped of 17 contracts with NHS trusts in England after reports that tonnes of clinical waste piled up at its sites.

NHS Scotland confirmed last week that HSE would lose its contract with them in April 2019, prompting the Shotts-based firm to announce that its banking facility had been cut off.

image copyrightReuters
image captionNational Services Scotland will take on responsibility for processing clinical waste

National Services Scotland said it was waiting to hear if HES would be able to re-establish its waste services in Scotland.

A spokeswoman added: "Contingency plans for the management of clinical waste have been successfully activated across all NHS boards in Scotland due to the disruption to clinical waste management services provided by Healthcare Environmental Services Ltd.

"Health boards await reassurance from the company that their services will be re-established.

"In the interim contingency arrangements have been put in place to ensure NHS Scotland services to the public are maintained."

Community sites

The spokeswoman said the measures would have no impact on public health or patient services.

HES were contracted to provide waste processing at 18 health boards across Scotland.

NSS said three principle contractors would now deal with waste at 28 larger acute sites across Scotland, while a number of smaller contractors would provide collection services to more than 4,000 community sites.

It said: "All these contracts and the plans behind them have been worked up in collaboration with Sepa (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) to ensure all regulatory requirements are being met."

HES managing director Garry Pettigrew said: "I am still hopeful that we can continue to work with NHSS and Scotland's waste will stay in Scotland and not be transported hundreds of miles to England. We remain committed to assisting NHSS at any time.

"We have the latest incineration technology located just outside Glasgow in Shotts and the capacity to safely and securely process all of Scotland's medical waste.

"I really hope we can find a solution before the hard winter months set in. As a company with more than 23 years' experience, we know it is partnership working that ensures Scotland's hospitals function properly."