Trusts paying triple the cost following NHS clinical waste scandal

Almost 20 NHS trusts are paying three times as much for clinical waste services after the trusts cancelled their previous contracts with the waste disposal company at the centre of the clinical waste scandal.

Contract award notices reveal that trusts in Yorkshire and Humber have been paying £10.4m per year to dispose of their clinical waste, compared to the £3.3m trusts were charged by Healthcare Environment Services (HES) in their old contracts.

HES was effectively stripped of its NHS contracts after NHS Improvement (NHSI) confirmed that hundreds of tonnes of hospital waste, including human body parts, had piled up at its facilities.

Health minister Stephen Barclay announced that arrangements had been made to replace services provided by HES, and the 18 trusts involved were told to cancel their contracts as the company had breached Environment Agency permits for amounts of waste stored at its premises.

The managing director of HES hit back arguing that his disposal company had been “vilified for providing an excellent service” and blamed a major drop in incinerator capacity for the pile up.

The health minister announced that the Department of Health and Social Care, NHSI and affected trusts had urgently put in place a new contract with cleaning organisation Mitie, which was immediately fully operational across all affected trust sites.

A contract award notice was published following this deal, stating that the estimated value for the contract was £10.4m.

This could potentially rise to £23.9m if the other 30 trusts who had contracts with HES also move to Mitie in the future.

The notice revealed that HES’s breaches of the EA’s permit limits “continue to pose a direct risk to the relevant trusts who have an ongoing duty of care in respect to their waste.”

It revealed Mitie was awarded the contract without a tender being published in the Official Journal of the EU, which is permitted when a new service provider is needed urgently.

Further action from the EA is anticipated at HES’s other sites where contracts have not yet been transferred. 

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