Clinical waste bags left in street

Birmingham Mail reports residents concerns about a pile of around 30 clinical waste bags – they say yellow but in the picture they look orange, certainly not Tiger bags – on the pavement outside a residential property.

“Families said they were furious that the sacks, thought to contain incontinence pads, had not been collected – and feared they could be opened by children.

“They said that up to 30 yellow clinical waste bags had lain outside a house in Quayside, Hockley, since at least January 25.

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Birmingham City hasn’t been doing well with waste collections recently having experienced the New Year bad weather and a protracted industrial dispute. There have been previous Clinical Waste Discussion Forum posts about those problems, and many more about the still unresolved deficiencies in the arrangements for domestic collections of clinical and incontinence wastes.

This event is possibly a consequence of that dispute, though suggestions of fly-tipping and comments from a Council spokesman that “the waste would be collected as soon as possible” do little to help.

“We are checking to find out if this was a missed collection or if it was a collection we were not aware of,” he said.

“The spokesman said arrangements for picking up yellow sacks* varied depending on whether customers had a regular collection or just used the service on an ad hoc basis.

Of course, those words are not as useful as getting the waste removed, and even less so that the wastes were put there in teh first place almost certainly as a result of an inadequate and inefficient clinical waste collection service that must have its roots in an underlying management failure.

Neighbourhood concerns about the risk of disease, of needles, and that children might be attracted to these wastes exemplifies the inadequacy of domestic collection services. Patients (producers) may have little storage space in their houses, flats or maisonettes, and perhaps no garden space. In that case, the waste must be left outside unless collection frequencies are timed to avoid accumulation of waste over the weekly cycle.

Even that is insufficient, as many Local Authorities insist that all clinical wastes are placed outside the patient’s property early in the morning on the day of collection, or even the night before, for collection at some unspecified time. That really is unsatisfactory.

An additional, and often overlooked, concern is of social role valorisation. The patient, presumably living in one of those flats shown in the picture, now has reporters and concerned residents scratching about and concerned about the safety of the wastes produced. It is not his or her fault. It must surely feel uncomfortable, embarrassing, awkward and undignified. We must consider the social impact of the ill-health events that result in clinical waste production from domestic premises and support, not stigmatise, those patients.

see also Clinical wastes in the community: Local Authority management of clinical wastes from domestic premises

* As an aside, Birmingham City Council are still informing residents and others that all clinical wastes must be bagged in yellow bags, and according to their web site they will provide yellow sacks for all residents and others requiring a clinical waste collection service.

The latest clinical waste audit for domestic producers, conducted by Blenkharn Environmental to update the published results posted above (link) will be prepared for publication as soon as possible. A note will be placed here in the Discussion Forum. The audit has been completed, and preliminary review reveals that many Local Authorities are still using yellow sacks for all wastes. The previously ridiculous demands that wastes are placed outside by 6am, 5 am 4.30am and even the night before the day of collection have been removed, though many LAs insist that wastes are outside by 7am. Few mention assisted collections but several state categorically that collection staff will not go inside a patient’s property to uplift wastes.

Perhaps in this next round of publication we can shame at east some to improve the standard of their service, supporting patients rather that creating barriers.

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