- NHS England claims Stericycle overcharged it over the last six years
- Company launched separate legal action last year, alleging NHS owed it millions for unpaid invoices
- Firm was previously known as SRCL
NHS chiefs have accused a clinical waste disposal firm of overcharging the health service by around £30m over the last six years, HSJ can reveal.
NHS England is embroiled in legal proceedings with Stericycle over the payments, which are thought to date back to the Lansley reforms in 2012-13.
Stericycle is one of the biggest providers of waste management services to the NHS, private healthcare organisations, and GP surgeries.
In 2017, the company launched legal action against NHS England after alleging it was owed £2.9m in unpaid invoices.
But, in an unrelated court case this summer, it emerged NHS England has countered by alleging Stericycle has “engaged in substantial overcharging” that “exceeds the invoiced sum by a sizeable margin”, according to a High Court judge.
HSJ has learned from several sources that the alleged overcharging equates to roughly £30m, and has been ongoing ever since the Lansley reforms.
As part of those reforms, clinical waste contracts between primary care trusts and Stericycle (which was known then as SRCL) for GP and pharmacy waste were moved to staff in the new commissioning organisations who were not properly trained in clinical waste contract management.
NHS England has not yet responded to HSJ’s questions.
A Stericycle spokesman said he could not comment as the court proceedings are ongoing.
Stericycle, which rebranded from SRCL in December 2017, is owned by an American company of the same name.
Last year, the US company agreed to pay around £233m to thousands of customers across the US after allegations it ignored customers’ contracts to arbitrarily increase prices. The settlement did not require Stericycle to admit to the alleged conduct.
In July, it emerged Stericycle’s UK company had discussed plans to “hurt the NHS” in retribution for contract changes that threatened its profits.
One of the company’s main competitors, Healthcare Environmental Services, has recently lost its contracts with NHS trusts after failing to keep waste levels within permits issued by the Environment Agency, for which it is now subject to a criminal investigation.
Information obtained by HSJ; High Court judgment