Clinical waste collection failures in Birmingham

After bad weather and industrial disputes, waste collections in Birminham have suffered. Now clinical waste collection delays are blamed on staffing problems.

Clinical wastes, hazardous by risk of infection if the yellow bag coding is to be believed, have not been collected in some areas of Birmingham for more than five weeks. Residents who use the service in Rednal claim there has not been a collection since the beginning of last month (December 2010).

A man who was concerned that 11 bags of clinical waste had been left outside the house of his bed-bound disabled mother claimed that he had spoken to an adviser at Birmingham City Council who cited staff shortages as the reason for the poor service.

They told me that they normally have 18 persons collecting clinical waste city wide but, due to holidays they have only had three staff working.”

This is clearly a complex situation but one which seems to be badly managed. Staff holidays reducing a complement of 18 to just 3 throughout December seems implausible. 

The safety and security of wastes is a particular concern of the Environment Agency and of HSE but the collection authority or its contractor must be oblivious to those obligations. That is not acceptable since this latest problem creates an obvious health and safety risk and public health hazard. They should not be exept from a regulatory ‘kick in the posterior’, and possible sanction.

Blenkharn Environmental has been responsible for several studies of clinical waste collections from community sources. Earlier findings were reported in the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum and downloads are available from the Publications page of this website. These studies are continuing and further results will be published soon.

 Set against the required standard and the typical standards of performance across the UK, the Birmingham City Council response that:

If people are concerned about particular items they should contact us and we will do our best to pick them up as soon as possible

and a contingency plan that allows: 

things like bed linen and nappies [to be] deposited in normal bin bags for collection

tells a tale smack of incompetence, an obvious failure in competent waste management standards and breach of waste regulations.


1 Comment

  1. The news from Birmingham gets worse, or is this just selective and exaggerated reporting in the local newspapers.

    Latest news, from, tells of a care home in Handsworth thats said its clinical waste has been left sitting for nearly a month and that 47 bags of solid human waste have remained on the street during that time. The cause this time was blamed on industrial action.

    Like Topsy, piles of uncollected waste continue to grow. Any advance on 47?



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