Well, it’s spreading among Local Authorities who are presumably cash poor and struggling to balance their books. After news of ‘threats’ to charge for domiciliary clinical waste collections when local health authorities sought to pull funding in Fenland, it now seems that Sheffield has jumped on the band wagon. Who will be next?
As we predicted after reports of this same issue in Fenland, a Sheffield carer says changes to waste collections could see rubbish such as soiled incontinence pads mounting up in people’s wheelie bins. Families who are caring for a relative currently use special yellow bin bags to dispose of clinical waste such as soiled pads, tubes and used hygiene gloves. The bags are collected weekly by Sheffield Council. But the council is reviewing the service and may instead ask people to leave the yellow bags in their normal black wheelie bins which would be emptied fortnightly as usual. Council officers say this is more discreet but one carer has slammed it as cost cutting.
This is certainly a better approach to that proposed by Fenland that proposed charging householders directly that was undoubtedly reprehensible, this is somewhat different. Reduced frequency of collections may be not unreasonable but surely must be assessed for criteria such as available and assessable storage space, and the predictable volumes of waste likely to be produced.
“Much of this waste will be incontinence pads, which could be soiled, and in some instances this soiling may be infectious, so where is the health and safety in this? Black bins are emptied every two weeks so what about aromas with clinical waste? “This is purely a cost cutting exercise and I doubt if all the implications have been considered.”
I however would be more concerned about the co-disposal of clinical and sanitary/offensive wastes with household refuse. If these are to be managed as a single waste stream we might simply disband the Environment Agency as their rule is clearly ignored. Worse still, if collections staff are expected to open and root around in every wheelie bin to pull out and separate some waste streams then the risks that the face will increase dramatically. What will the Health & DSafety Executive do about that?
Chris Sterry, vice chairman of Families Lobbying and Advising Sheffield, said: “Sheffield Council appears to want to stop clinical waste collections, or reduce the number of collections, by transferring as many as they can to black bin collections. “Currently there are weekly collections and I feel this is the best service. Our yellow bags are in a bin in our backyard and are collected from there. It is worrying as we will not have room in our black bin.