Article submitted by Peter Njogu

The Environmental Agency (EA) has launched an investigation into the breach of permits by the National Health Service (NHS). The news emerged after it was discovered that human body parts were piled up at disposal sites that deal with clinical waste in England.

The Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) is contracted by the NHS to deal with human and pharmaceutical waste.

“We have repeatedly told officials about the reduced capacity to incinerate waste,” said a HES spokesman. He blames the ageing infrastructure and lack of proper policies in dealing with the issue.

However, the Environment Agency said the clinical waste was not acceptable.

“The EA has found HES to be in breach of its environment permits at sites which deal with clinical waste,” a spokesperson of the Environment Agency said. “We are taking enforcement action against the operator, which includes clearance of the excess waste, and have launched a criminal investigation.”

The spokesman added: “We are supporting the government and the NHS to ensure there is no disruption to public services and for the alternative plans to be put in place for hospitals affected to dispose of their waste safely.”

The scandal has alarmed government officials who held a COBRA meeting to discuss the pressing matter. Health secretary Matt Hancock who chaired the COBRA meeting is yet to report the findings to parliament.

According to the Mirror, the HES failed to dispose of the human waste, which included limbs, within the stipulated timeframe. The Health Service Journal, which first reported the news, said the clinical waste was currently being placed in fridges.

The HES is tasked with disposing waste from a number of hospitals in England and Scotland. The government says it has been monitoring the firm closely since the issue came to light in late July.

England’s Labour’s shadow health and social care secretary, Jonathan Ashworth stated how disappointing it was for Matt Hancock to fail to make a statement to the House of Commons considering the scale of the issue.

In a statement to CNN, Healthcare Environmental Services added that they have held numerous discussions with environmental regulators to find a solution to reduce the volume of waste, blaming the ageing incineration facilities.

“There is absolutely no risk to the health of patients or the wider public.” said a government spokesperson while speaking to CNN. “Our priority is to prevent disruption to the NHS and other vital public services and work is underway to dispose of their waste safely and efficiently.”

However, the EA refutes the claims saying that most of the sites dealing with human and surgical waste disposal are in compliance with the set regulations.

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