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03.01.19

Waste firm at centre of NHS scandal confirms it has ceased operations after staff made redundant

A waste disposal company at the centre of a clinical waste stockpiling scandal has confirmed that it has ceased operations.

Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) has said all of its 400 staff have now been made redundant, after becoming embroiled in a clinical waste controversy where it was stripped of 15 NHS contracts after it was found to be storing waste which included human body parts over five times their permitted limit— and was breaching its permit at four of its six England sites which deal with clinical waste.

The Environmental Agency launched a criminal investigation into the company and the health minister Stephen Barclay told parliament that NHS Improvement had concluded HES had “failed to demonstrate that they were operating within their contractual limits.”

The managing director of HES, Garry Pettigrew, claimed at the time that his company had been “vilified for providing an excellent service” and blames a UK-wide shortage of high temperature incineration facilities for the issues that led to the failures, which the government has denied.

Workers were not paid their most recent wages, which were due last Friday, after receiving a text on Christmas Eve claiming their bank had refused to release the funds.

The firm has said it cannot pay out redundancy money, so payments will have to be claimed through the Redundancy Payment Service which is a UK-wide scheme for employees of insolvent companies.

In a statement, Pettigrew said: “We have tried so hard over the last few months to keep going but we've now reached the position where this is no longer tenable.

“Regrettably, we have informed staff that we are ceasing operations.”

In the letter to employees, Pettigrew said the firm had ceased trading due to circumstances “outwith of our control” and that it had not received assistance at any time from politicians and or enterprise bodies meaning it has been unable to resolve matters.

Outsourcing company Mitie has stepped in to take over the contracts in England and secured 1,000 tonnes of capacity.

Image credit -  Lucinda Cameron/PA Wire/PA Images

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