Clinical waste from Scotland to be sent to Wales

contaminated sharps bin Image copyright Getty Images

Hospital waste from Scotland is to be sent to Wales for disposal following the collapse of a clinical waste firm.

Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) lost multi-million pound NHS contracts after a waste stockpiling scandal.

Under a new contract, "yellow bag" hospital waste, containing sharp materials such as syringes, is to be sent to Wrexham, North Wales.

"Orange bag" waste, including items contaminated with bodily fluids, will also go there initially.

The new waste disposal contract for Scotland has been awarded to the Spanish-owned firm Tradebe Healthcare National and is due to commence in August.

The Scottish government's health secretary, Jeane Freeman, gave details of the new disposal sites in answer to questions from the Conservative MSP for Central Scotland Graham Simpson.

In her response she said "yellow bag" waste would go to Tradebe's Wrexham site.

The "orange bag" waste will eventually be treated at a new plant at Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, once it is operational, but in the meantime it will also be sent to the Welsh town.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption HES had a site in Shotts, North Lanarkshire

HES, which entered liquidation last month, had previously removed waste from every hospital, GP surgery, dental practice and pharmacy in Scotland, as well as a number of NHS trusts in England.

But it stopped collections in early December after too much waste built up at its sites.

Earlier this month, it emerged contractors were charging more than £460,000 per week under interim arrangements to dispose of Scotland's clinical waste - more than double the amount HES maintains it charged.

Climate concerns

The Scottish Conservatives claimed the long distances to disposal sites operated by the new contractor Tradebe were at odds with the Scottish government's stated climate change goals.

MSP Graham Simpson said: "No sooner had Nicola Sturgeon announced a climate emergency than her government confirms plans to send clinical waste 250 miles (402km) away.

"That has an obvious negative impact on the environment, yet her SNP administration presses ahead with it anyway."

He added: "People will see this decision and wonder why Scotland under the SNP isn't capable of disposing of its own medical waste."

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "There is no bigger priority than tackling climate change, and the first minister has made clear that we will take action to ensure Scotland continues to be recognised as a world leader in this area.

"The contract for national healthcare waste management was awarded by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS).

"As part of the procurement process all tenders were assessed and scored on their environmental impact."

Scottish Labour's Monica Lennon said: "There must be an inquiry into what has gone wrong, and for proper scrutiny to take place over the SNP's decision to award a £100m of public funds to another private firm without considering Scottish Labour's call to bring the service back into the NHS."

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