CLINICAL WASTE

Clinical waste firm collapse costs the Scottish government £1.4 million

Hospitals and Health and Social Care Partnership premises were affected.

By Bill Heaney

The government has paid £1.4m to keep clinical waste collection services going across Scotland.

MSPs have been told that the collapse of clinical waste firm HES put the health service at risk.

Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, said the cost of contingency plans, after the Shotts-based company contractors stopped doing the job in December, was £1.4 million.

Ms Freeman admitted that bags of clinical waste had backed-up at some hospitals and GP surgeries while contingency arrangements bedded in.

Places affected included all the local health centres, Vale of Leven Hospital, the Golden Jubilee and care homes across West Dunbartonshire, Helensburgh and Lomond.

But she said there was no risk to the environment or local communities.

She told MSPs: “Scotland’s health services were placed at risk as a result of HES breaching its contract.

“Contingency arrangements developed in anticipation of just such an event – developed in consultation with National Services Scotland, Sepa and a range of other partners ensured there was no disruption to frontline services.”

She told the Scottish Parliament chamber the blame for the situation lay with the company.

Ms Freeman said: “If there is a fiasco here at all it is not one of this government’s making – any break in services was caused by a private sector company failing to honour its contract.”

Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) lost its NHS England contracts after reports emerged in October that human body parts and other clinical waste was piling up after the company struggled to incinerate it.

Soon after, NHS Scotland announced that the firm would not have its contract continued north of the border when it came up for renewal in April.

Contingency measures were put in place which saw a string of temporary contractors take over the HES work to ensure clinical waste continued to be disposed of safely.

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