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NHS paying more after clinical waste contract change

Nearly 20 NHS trusts are paying three times as much for clinical waste services after their contracts were moved from the company at the centre of the stockpiling row.

Outsourcing giant Mitie is charging trusts in Yorkshire and Humber £10.4m a year to dispose of their clinical waste after the trusts cancelled their previous contracts with Healthcare Environmental Services (HES).

HES said its annual charge to the consortium of trusts was £3.3m.

In October, NHS Improvement told 18 trusts to cancel their contracts with HES after the company was repeatedly guilty of breaching Environment Agency permits for amounts of waste stored at its premises.

HES claimed its backlog – which includes some human body parts – had built up because the country lacked adequate incineration capacity to deal with the waste, an argument which the Government has dismissed.

Later that month, a deal with Mitie was urgently brokered by the Government, for which a contract award notice has been published. The notice states the estimated value of the contract is £10.4m, potentially rising to £23.9m if the 30 other trusts served by HES also move to Mitie in the future.

A HES spokesman said its overall charge to the trusts, including those that have moved to Mitie, was £8.3m. The company has denied allegations that its bid was too low to provide the service in a financially sustainable way.

The NHS’s contracting authority with Mitie is Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said prices charged by Mitie and HES were “a commercial matter for those companies”.

She added: ”But it is clear that HES was not fulfilling its requirements which led to the stockpiling. Our priority has been to support NHS trusts to ensure there is no disruption to services, and our contingency plans continue to ensure that all clinical waste is removed and disposed of safely.”

The notice revealed that Mitie was awarded the contract without a tender being published in the Official Journal of the European Union, which is allowed where a new provider of services is sought urgently.

It stated that HES’s breaches of EA permit limits “continues to pose a direct risk to the relevant trusts who have an ongoing duty of care in respect of their waste”.

The notice also stated that further action from the EA was anticipated at HES’s other sites which serve the trusts which have not yet moved to the Mitie contract.

Last month the EA confirmed that HES had met its deadlines to bring levels of waste at its Newcastle site back down to permitted levels.

The company has two deadlines in January to do the same at its Nottingham and Bradford sites.

The Department for Health and Social Care, NHS Improvement and Mitie were asked for comment.

This story originally appeared in Health Service Journal and is reproduced with permission.

NHS trusts and foundation trusts which have moved to the Mitie contract:

Airedale

Barnsley Hospital

Bradford District Care

Calderdale and Huddersfield

Harrogate District Hospital

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals

Humber Teaching

Leeds and York Partnership

Leeds Community Healthcare

Leeds Teaching Hospitals

Mid Yorkshire

Midland Partnership

Sheffield Children’s

Sheffield Health and Social Care

South West Yorkshire Partnership

York Teaching Hospitals

Yorkshire Ambulance Service

 

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