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Clinical waste collection costs hit £15m after HES collapse

Healthcare Environmental Services ceased trading in December amid controversy.

Healthcare Environmental Services: The company ceased trading last year.
Healthcare Environmental Services: The company ceased trading last year. STV

Almost £15m has been spent on medical waste collection in Scotland since a firm collapsed amid a stockpiling scandal, according to official figures.

Healthcare Environmental Services (HES), which was based in Shotts, North Lanarkshire, ceased trading in December after it became embroiled in a clinical waste pile-up controversy with the NHS.

It denied claims human body parts were among items caught up in a backlog at its sites.

The Scottish Government gave £1.4m in funding for contingency planning and a number of temporary contractors took over the work.

This involved removing waste from every hospital, pharmacy, GP surgery and dental practice across the country.

Figures confirmed by the Scottish Government show £14.8m has been spent on the work by NHS National Services Scotland, between December and July.

This contrasts with the ten-year deal with Tradebe Healthcare to take over the operations formerly carried out by HES, which is worth around £10m a year.

The higher costs have been blamed on extra measures having to be put in place in a small space of time.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "National Services Scotland continues to work closely with NHS health boards, contractors, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Government to deliver robust contingency plans to ensure NHS Scotland services to the public are maintained and patient services are not impacted.

"The current arrangements ensure clinical waste is appropriately stored, collected and disposed of in line with industry regulations.

"As we have said before, the cost of contingency - and ultimately maintaining NHS services - comes at a higher cost due to the additional measures required to be put in place at short notice following withdrawal of services by HES.

"We will know the final net cost of contingency at the end of current arrangements, when costs can be set against the unpaid contracted costs which would have been due to HES if they had not arbitrarily withdrawn from the contract."

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