Health minister Stephen Barclay has announced that Healthcare Enviromental Services’ company has been stripped of its NHS contracts after hundreds of tonnes of hospital waste, including human body parts, had piled up at its facilities.
Healthcare Environment Services (HES) held contracts with several NHS trusts to dispose of clinical waste, but last week the Environment Agency said it had breached its permits at five sites and had launched a criminal investigation over the “excess waste”.
To which Mr Barclay stated that “I can confirm that NHS services continue to operate as normal.”
“We are ensuring that there are contingency plans in place in case of any disruption, and that there is absolutely no risk to the health of patients or the wider public.”
He said: “On July 31, the Environment Agency notified central government of an issue concerning clinical waste collection and disposal for hospitals and other public services provided by the company, Healthcare Environmental Services.”
He added: “While the waste was stored securely, it was not being processed and disposed of within the correct regulatory timescales. At no point has there been an impact on public health or any delay to the ability of the NHS to carry out operations.”
HES blamed “ageing infrastructure” and green policies for its inability to incinerate the waste.
NHS Improvement had given HES only 48 hours to provide evidence they were operating within legal and contractual parameters despite HES stating that their policies’ were a hindrance to carry out their tasks and hence failed to demonstrate they were following the set parameters.
NHS trusts served termination notices to HES to formally end their contracts shortly after.
Mitie has been offered the contract to replace HES, to which Barclay said “This contract was enacted, following the termination of the contract with HES, and Mitie have been fully operational across all affected trust sites from Monday morning,”
Meanwhile in Scotland a government spokesperson has said that the company has not lost their contracts with NHS Scotland boards
“HES has never stockpiled hundreds of tonnes of human body parts and dangerous waste at any of our sites throughout the UK,” a statement released on Friday said.
“The amount of anatomical waste we collect in England each week only amounts to 1 per cent of the overall tonnage of waste collected.”
But the company previously said it had “highlighted the reduction in the UK’s high-temperature incineration capacity for the last few years”, and has pointed out to the Environment Agency the amount of waste produced by the NHS for incineration “far outweighs the entire incineration capabilities of the UK”.
The government said: “At no point has there been an impact on public health or any delay to the ability of the NHS to carry out operations.”