Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) today (29 December) announced that it has “ceased operations” and its remaining employees have been informed that their employment with the company will end.
The company issued a statement saying that “Staff at the Lanarkshire-based clinical waste disposal firm were told the news at company meetings. HES believes that TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) applies and that staff should have the opportunity to transfer to other waste operators who have taken over HES’s contracts.”
HES has been in a battle with the NHS and the government over the last few months after the Environment Agency stepped in over concerns about storage and handling processes at the company which had significant contracts with the health service for clinical, hazardous and other wastes.
It had written to a number of health trusts arguing that it should be paid for its work and should not have work taken away.
The statement today said: “Over the last two months, the company has tried to remain operational after health trusts removed its clinical waste disposal contracts in England. Earlier this month, it was also informed it had lost its Scottish health service contract, on the same day its banking arrangements were suspended.”
HES managing director Garry Pettigrew said: “We have tried so hard over the last few months to keep going but we’ve now reached the position where this is no longer tenable. Regrettably, we have informed staff that we are ceasing operations.”
Mr Pettigrew continued: “We believe that TUPE applies here and we hope that the staff will have the opportunity to transfer to the new contractors appointed by NHS National Services Scotland. The contracts in England also fall within TUPE and Mitie and the other appointed contractors should allow this process to be implemented immediately to secure staff and customer services.”
The statement claimed that the company’s problems began earlier this year “when a lack of high-temperature incineration capacity in the UK led to it breaching storage permits at some of its plants in England.
“HES had requested a dispensation to store the waste temporarily to allow for disposal in a planned and phased programme over a number of weeks. This request was refused, resulting in Mitie being awarded all contracts in England without HES’s knowledge and making the company unsustainable.
“HES has always maintained that the waste was being stored safely and securely, and this was confirmed by Health Minister Steven Barclay in the House of Commons when he stated that there was no risk to public health.”
HES has set out its position ‘The Truth’ about the medical waste backlog on its website.
The company was set up 22 years ago with its headquarters in Shotts, Lanarkshire. HES said that it has invested £13m in the Shotts site to build a new waste to energy pyrolysis facility that it is among the most advanced in the UK. It also said that it is the “only waste management company in the UK to invest in incineration capabilities in the last 30 years”.