EXCLUSIVE: The government has introduced contingency plans for dealing with clinical waste at some NHS trusts in England.
This is because of a backlog of material which needs incineration and is currently thought to have been awaiting treatment for a number of months.
High level meetings have taken place between a number of departments, including the Cabinet Office, the NHS Improvement team and the Environment Agency. The Department for the Environment has been particularly involved in discussions with secretary of state Michael Gove briefed on the topic.
A company regulated by the Environment Agency is believed to be seen as in breach of its environmental permits at sites which handle waste from a variety of public services. Consequently, the EA is understood to be taking enforcement action against the operator to bring the company back into compliance with their permits.
And, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) is understood to be aware of developments and is working closely with the Environment Agency.
It is understood that on the 12 September, the Cabinet Office held a meeting where a plan was presented for a number of contractors across England to take in additional waste, which in some cases might be above their permitted levels. Special authorisations are thought to have been granted to the companies involved in helping to tackle the backlog.