Waterford hospital struggling to deal with clinical waste build-up

Staff members reported waste outside the hospital, caused by huge volumes of discarded PPE
Waterford hospital struggling to deal with clinical waste build-up

The build-up of clinical waste, caused by an increased use of PPE, at University Hospital Waterford.

An increased demand for personal protection equipment (PPE) at a Waterford hospital is leading to issues with the build-up of clinical waste.

University Hospital Waterford (UHW) is currently dealing with a number of Covid-19 outbreaks throughout the hospital.

Staff at the hospital have reported an enormous backlog in clearing clinical waste, with bags of gowns, gloves, and other PPE awaiting removal.

A hospital staff member explained the gravity of the issue.

“Around the start of December a directive went out informing all staff dealing directly with patients that they had to wear a gown as well as the obligatory mask and gloves,” the staff member said.

“In some wards, these gowns were being put in general waste bins but other wards changed all their bins to clinical waste. In one case, a ward went from having two clinical waste bins to over 30. This ward now has no recycle or general waste bins so this rubbish is going into clinical waste bins.” 

According to the HSE it costs between €0-€170 to get rid of recycling (per tonne), €130-€200 to get rid of general waste, €935 for non-hazardous clinical waste, and a staggering €2,125 per tonne to get rid of hazardous clinical waste.

“The company collecting clinical waste from hospitals cannot keep up with the demand for the bins we’re putting clinical waste in,” the UHW staff member said. 

“UHW has been having disposal problems since before Christmas, having to use their own large general waste and cardboard bins for overflow. What’s happening is that there is now a build-up of waste from Covid-19 wards, and they’re being left outside where birds are picking at them. It’s not a safe situation.” 

A spokesperson for UHW said that “due to the increased usage of PPE and the corresponding increase in clinical waste the hospital was experiencing issues in terms of collection of clinical waste from its site”.

“National HSE are actively involved in securing additional service providers,” the spokesperson said. 

“University Hospital Waterford has created additional secure on-site storage and is engaging with a contracted service provider.”

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