I am today taking the opportunity to update the House about a company which provides clinical waste services to NHS Trusts.
This company—Healthcare Environmental Services (HES)—was subject to previous discussions in Parliament. On 9 October, the then Minister of State for Health, set out concerns that a number of waste storage and treatment sites were well over the permitted levels. This included waste collected from hospitals and other public services. Although the waste was stored securely, the Environment Agency was sufficiently concerned at the activities of this company that they took regulatory action, including launching a criminal investigation.
At the start of October, a number of trusts served by HES’ Normanton site, terminated their contracts, and arranged for Mitie to provide waste collection and incineration services instead.
Until last week, a number of other NHS trusts continued to receive services from HES. Those organisations, supported by NHSI and the Department of Health and Social Care, have been monitoring the situation.
However, HES has now failed to collect waste from 24 further trusts. NHSI has sought assurance from HES that it has not ceased trading and is capable of, and will continue to provide services. Such assurance has not been forthcoming. Contingency arrangements are in place for each of the affected trusts. An optional extension in the Mitie contract has been exercised, which will allow all affected trusts to access a replacement clinical waste collection service. This has been communicated to all Trusts and NHSI is working with affected trusts to mobilise and implement contingency plans.
These robust contingency measures mean there is no gap in service provision and no health risk to the public.