I read this week a BBC News article highlighting some pictures of orange bags at a couple of NHS Scotland health centres in North Lanarkshire.
The story of course was about the untimely demise of Healthcare Environmental in Shotts and even had some words of sympathy from a former employee explaining that there was a backlog to be collected. Being the BBC I would hope that they may have delivered a more balanced approach and actually laid some praise on NHS Scotland for managing the situation so well.
Few people will realise how much waste is generated across Scotland and that nearly all of it was the responsibility of Healthcare Environmental to collect. Hospitals are the obvious ones as they generate huge amounts of multiple types of waste, much of which must be kept separate and tracked from place of creation to point of disposal.
Many hospitals also have their waste collected during the night to minimise disruption of other services. But to add to the mix and to help people realise the scale of the task, it is not just hospitals, but every health centre, doctor surgery, dentist and pharmacy in Scotland that requires specialist waste collection.
The volume is huge
The numbers are huge and for NHS Scotland to have identified the risk, implemented a contingency plan and ultimately executed that contingency plan a week before Christmas is pretty amazing and they should be complimented on the work that they must have done behind the scenes in a very short period of time.
Having read a few articles and now spoken to a few folk involved I think even the NHS were taken aback by the backlog of waste on many sites that simply had not been collected by Healthcare Environmental. I believe up to 6 weeks’ worth of waste.
Specialist knowledge is key
As a specialist waste service provider I have a pretty good idea how this was done and can only congratulate the many companies (I know of at least 5) that are working with the NHS to clear the backlog and deliver specialist waste disposal services until the new contract (which I believe has been awarded) begins on April 1st.
The NHS should be singled out in the BBC report for praise because the Healthcare Environmental autoclave disposal units in Shotts made it one of the biggest specialist waste disposal sites in the UK and whilst there is uncertainty over who now owns the site (Bank, creditors?) and there is still no word of administrators being appointed, the site remains closed. So I tip my hat to NHS Scotland to being able to secure capacity not just for the ongoing waste but the backlog.
Going back to the BBC story and the waste that was reported at the three sites: the waste was collected on the 9th and 10th of January and between that date and the start of the contingency plan implementation there had been 12 days of weekends and bank holidays. There is bound to be a few places that take a little longer to get to, probably because of vehicles being full due to backlogs but none the less a great job has been done by all that have been involved and maybe there will be a BBC report at some time in the future that reports this.
For any private clients of Healthcare Environmental looking for a reliable clinical or offensive waste disposal service please get in touch.
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