Tonnes of human body parts stockpiled by Scottish waste firm

Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018 launches in Wakefield

Baby Loss Awareness Week 2018 launches in Wakefield

Human body parts were among tonnes of waste stockpiled by a company that deals with rubbish from NHS hospitals, prompting a criminal investigation.

"This was serious enough to have a criminal investigation and serious enough to go to a Cobra meeting, and yet there was no statement to parliament or to the local community".

Healthcare Environment Services said the United Kingdom had experienced "reduced incineration capacity" over the past year, which it had repeatedly highlighted to authorities.

The journal states that government officials were so alarmed by the issue, a COBRA meeting, chaired by health secretary Matt Hancock was convened.

Healthcare Environment Services, a disposal company contracted by the UK's National Health Service (NHS), is being investigated by the Environment Agency for being in breach of permits at five waste-management sites.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: "The Environment Agency has found Healthcare Environmental Services to be in breach of its environmental permits at five sites which deal with clinical waste".

But Mr Dainton questioned how the health risks could be properly assessed.

It is thought the waste was stored securely, but was not being processed and disposed of within the appropriate regulatory timeframes, reported the Mirror.

"We are taking enforcement action against the operator, which includes clearance of the excess waste, and have launched a criminal investigation".

"We are supporting the government and the NHS to ensure there is no disruption to public services and for alternative plans to be put in place for hospitals affected to dispose of their waste safely".

A United Kingdom government spokesman said it was monitoring the situation closely and had made sure that public services - including NHS Trusts - had contingency plans in place.

He added: "There is absolutely no risk to the health of patients or the wider public. Healthcare Environmental has been in discussion with the environmental regulators and has consistently highlighted these issues", the company said.

Environmental campaigners said they warned authorities about a medical waste disposal site in Normanton that is now 350 tonnes over capacity. "Our priority is to prevent disruption to the NHS and other vital public services and work is underway to ensure organizations can continue to dispose of their waste safely and efficiently".

A spokesman for Healthcare Environmental Services said: "Healthcare Environmental has highlighted the reduction in the UK's high-temperature incineration capacity for the last few years. This is down to the ageing infrastructure, prolonged breakdowns and the reliance on zero-waste-to-landfill policies, taking up the limited high-temperature incineration capacity in the market".

This is five times more than the company's 70 tonne limit, and a small proportion of it is believed to have been human body parts.

"I just don't think that is fair".

Unison's head of health, Sara Gorton, described the situation as "simply horrific", saying it was "unlikely that such a distressing situation would have happened had the service remained in-house".