Fri. Jun 25th, 2021


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‘SNP incompetence’: Millions spent on disposing of medical waste including body parts

3 min read

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Nicola Sturgeon’s administration has thought to have spent almost £40million to dispose of medical waste since Healthcare Environmental Services Ltd in Shotts, North Lanarkshire ceased trading. Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) were responsible for the disposing of clinical waste in NHS organisations across the UK.

But the company closed down in 2019 following months of controversy over its handling of contracts to dispose of human body parts and infectious waste for NHS trusts and boards around the UK.

Its contracts for 17 English NHS trusts were terminated after huge backlogs of unprocessed waste were found at its depots across the UK whilst the NHS in Scotland also distanced itself from the company.

It was discovered that hundreds of tonnes of materials had not been incinerated.

The government then had to undertake an expensive contingency solution to ensure clinical waste was collected and treated.


Figures obtained by The Herald show that £9million was required to continue the service after the company collapsed in 2018/19.

This took the total amount of public money spent in the 2018/19 financial year to £14m whilst in 2019/20, the total cost for removing clinical waste was £23.5million.

Miles Briggs MSP, public health spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives have called for the issues and costs to be “properly investigated”.

He added: “The mismanagement of hospital waste disposal by SNP ministers is another example of their incompetence running NHS Scotland.

“Ministers have been warned about the impact on costs and hospital waste since Healthcare Environmental Services stopped providing services to NHS Scotland.

“Last year there were repeated problems with the disposal of high-risk clinical waste, failure to clear backlogs at hospitals and issues with clinical waste disposal contracts.

“The disposal of clinical waste has cost Scottish taxpayers millions in additional costs over the last two years to desperately try to clean up this Government mess.

“We need to see ministers held to account for why we are in this mess and I believe it is time for the hospital waste scandal in Scotland to be properly investigated.”

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NHS officials have stressed that moving away from a contingency plan has taken longer than expected but the full transition should be finished by the end of the summer.

A spokesman for NHS Scotland said: “With the previous supplier’s cessation of services in December 2018, there was significant disruption to the UK clinical waste market.

“In Scotland, contingency solutions were used to ensure clinical waste was collected and treated in line with all applicable regulations, while having no impact on patient services.

“In summary, contingency arrangements in Scotland have included new clinical waste collections from hospital and community sites and new treatment facilities to process the waste.



“This has resulted in higher costs, due to the investment required that would typically be recovered over the course of a long-term contract.

“The process of moving from contingency in Scotland to the new clinical waste provider has taken longer than anticipated due to a delay in contract award following the market disruption, subsequent planning delays and then COVID-19.

“However, health boards are now transitioning fully from contingency and this will be complete by the end of the summer.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson added in response: “NHS National Services Scotland continues to work closely with local NHS health boards to ensure clinical waste services are maintained and patient services are not impacted.

“Transition of health board clinical waste services from the agreed contingency measures to the new clinical waste provider is underway and is expected to complete by the end of the summer.”

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