NHS supplier that kept body parts faces criminal investigation

Northern head office of Healthcare Environment Services Ltd which has been found to be in breach of its permits at five sites in England

A spokesman added: "In the event of any disruption to service at NHS sites across Scotland, NHS Scotland already has contingency plans ready to put into place to ensure there is no impact on services to patients or staff".

A backlog of waste, which is reported to include amputated limbs and pharmaceutical waste, is the result of a reduction in incineration infrastructure capacity, the company says.

Hundreds of tons of human body parts and surgical waste have been stockpiled by a disposal company contracted by the UK's National Health Service, according to the Health Services Journal, citing leaked documents. The Environment Agency was first alerted to the problem in March this year and hit the company with a series of warning notices and enforcement orders giving them deadline to get rid of the waste.

"The amount of anatomical waste we collect in England each week only amounts to 1% of the overall tonnage of waste collected".

"Should that change we have contingency plans in place", she said.

At one site in Normanton, West Yorkshire, excess waste levels reached 350 tonnes in September, the HSJ reported.

A spokeswoman for the EA, who uncovered the gruesome findings, said: "The Environment Agency has found Health Environmental Services to be in breach of its environmental permits at five sites which deal with clinical waste".

As the regulator, we have set out a timeline for clearance of the waste and are carrying out regular inspections at each of the company's sites to monitor the situation.

Over the a year ago, this reduced incineration capacity has been evident across all of the industry and has affected all companies, it says.

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Healthcare Environment Services Ltd has failed to incinerate the waste within the time limit - meaning it is in breach of its permits at five sites in England.

"All waste is contained and processed within licensed facilities in full cooperation with the relevant authorities", it said in an emailed statement.

"HEG is dedicated to resolving this issue, as and when incineration capacity becomes available", it added.

"In the interim, all our facilities are operating normally whilst we work with our various partners across the United Kingdom", said the spokesperson.

English Health Secretary Matt Hancock led the meeting discussing the issue, whereby the Environment Agency in England said it had found Healthcare Environmental Services to be in breach of environmental permits at five sites which deal with clinical waste.

A criminal investigation has been launched along with a clear up operation, the Environment Agency has said, which is taking enforcement action against Healthcare Environment Services Ltd.

"There has been no disruption to our customers' services whilst we have been dealing with this issue". HSJ reports the affected trusts were Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust, Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole FT, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, and East and North Hertfordshire Trust.

Healthcare Environmental Group offers collection, recycling and disposal services for organisations producing a variety of medical, chemical and hazardous waste - including a large number of NHS hospitals across the UK.

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