Clinical waste collection for dentists in Scotland threatened

Clinical waste collection for dentists in Scotland threatened

Employees at a Scottish waste disposal firm that is under criminal investigation have been laid off, after Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) lost nearly 20 health service contracts. NHS Scotland said its contract, which covered every hospital, GP surgery, NHS pharmacy and dental practice, would not be renewed in April 2019.

When HES hit difficulties, NHS Scotland put into place contingency measures which will see another private firm collect the clinical waste until the new contractor, Spanish firm Tradebe, takes over in April, 2019.

Staff at the company, based at Shotts in North Lanarkshire, and which employs 400 people UK-wide, have been told they were being made redundant with immediate effect. They were sent text messages shortly before Christmas warning they were not likely to be paid this month because the company’s bank, HSBC, had refused to release money.

HES appears to be on the brink of closing down following months of controversy over its handling of contracts to dispose of clinical waste, including human body parts and infectious waste, for NHS trusts and boards around the UK. The Environment Agency for England has begun a criminal investigation over the unauthorised backlog of waste at its depots, which were at levels far beyond HES licences. It had taken enforcement action against HES 15 times in the past year.

Garry Pettigrew, the company’s managing director, has repeatedly insisted the firm had done nothing wrong and blamed a nationwide shortage of incinerator capacity and government inaction for the crisis. In a letter to staff, Pettigrew said: “I write to you to inform you that your position in the company will be made redundant with immediate effect. I apologise that there have been no previous consultations on this matter, however there are unforeseen circumstances that have proven to be out of our control.”

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