NHS waste deal shows Sturgeon’s climate emergency is a ‘gimmick’, Tory insists
Hospital waste is being sent from Scotland to Wales for disposal, following the collapse of scandal hit firm Healthcare Environmental Services (HES).
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has confirmed that “yellow bag” waste from hospitals, containing sharp materials such as syringes, is being sent to Wrexham in North Wales.
The deal with disposal firm Tradebe will also see “orange bag” waste, which includes items contaminated with bodily fluids, being sent there until a disposal plant at Bellshill becomes operational.
Ms Freeman confirmed the arrangements in answer to questions from Tory Central Scotland MSP Graham Simpson.
Conservatives claimed the arrangements, put in place after Lanarkshire based HES ceased trading in December, exposed Scottish Government hypocrisy on the issue of climate change.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon used her conference speech in April to declare a climate emergency – but Mr Simpson insisted that was a “gimmick”.
The Conservative said: “No sooner had Nicola Sturgeon announced a climate emergency than her Government confirms plans to send clinical waste 250 miles away.
“That has an obvious negative impact on the environment, yet her SNP administration presses ahead with it anyway.”
He added: “It exposes the climate emergency as a gimmick – it was clearly something thought up on the hoof which she will now live to regret.
“People will see this decision and wonder why Scotland under the SNP isn’t capable of disposing of its own medical waste.
“Instead of making unconvincing statements about saving the planet, the nationalists would be better finding ways to safely dispose of all our clinical waste here, in a way that helps the economy and protects the environment.”
HES, which entered liquidation last month, had removed waste from every hospital, GP surgery, dental practice and pharmacy in Scotland, as well as a number of NHS trusts in England.
But it stopped collections in early December after too much waste, including human body parts, built up at its sites.
Earlier this month it emerged contractors are charging more than £460,000 per week to dispose of the hazardous materials in Scotland following the demise of HES.
That is more than double the amount former HES boss Garry Pettigrew had claimed his company charged, saying the maximum annual bill was £11 million, which is around £211,500 per week.
Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon also raised concerns, saying her party had “repeatedly called for greater scrutiny of the clinical waste scandal and its financial cost to our NHS”.
She added: “The Health Secretary has serious questions to answer over why – months after Healthcare Environmental Services ceased trading – we still do not have clear solutions or answers on what is happening with Scotland’s clinical waste.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There is no bigger priority than tackling climate change, and the First Minister has made clear that we will take action to ensure Scotland continues to be recognised as a world leader in this area.
“The contract for national healthcare waste management was awarded by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS). As part of the procurement process all tenders were assessed and scored on their environmental impact.”