• HES provided clinical waste management to around 50 NHS trusts in England
  • Was stripped of NHS contracts after EA found stockpiled waste five times over permitted levels

The company at the heart of the NHS clinical waste stockpiling scandal has gone into liquidation.

Healthcare Environmental Services, which provided clinical waste management for around 50 NHS trusts in England, is in the process of being wound up after a decision on Thursday by Hamilton Sheriff Court in Scotland.

The company, which was based in Shotts (east of Glasgow), was stripped of its contracts with the NHS last year after Environment Agency inspectors found stockpiled waste – including human body parts – five times over the levels permitted.

HSJ revealed in October that emergency plans had to be enacted across the NHS after the EA took regulatory action. The contracts were subsequently moved to Mitie during the last quarter of 2018.

The situation prompted the government to hold a COBRA meeting, and £1m was set aside for contingency plans – which included installing large containers outside NHS trusts in which waste could be stored.

The government has been unable to access HES’ warehouses as the company had not been put into administration, meaning there is likely to be a significant amount of untreated waste currently decaying at the facilities.

HES continues to be the subject of a criminal investigation by the EA. 

The company published a statement on Friday afternoon stating it had “not officially been notified” of the liquidation. It said the “ongoing medical waste crisis has been caused by a severe lack of high-temperature incineration capacity” in the UK, a claim repeatedly denied by the government.  

BBC Good Morning Scotland, which first reported the news on Friday, also reported the company had gone into liquidation at the request of a creditor.