NHS could 'save millions' by improving waste management

White Paper shows cost savings for healthcare estates from improved waste management

Savings of 15-20 per cent are possible by enhancing waste management within healthcare estates

Changing attitudes towards waste and waste disposal across the healthcare sector will generate millions of pounds that can be reinvested into frontline services, claims a new White Paper.

By changing the shape of the decision-making process for procuring waste services across the healthcare sector, valuable funds can be released from budgets to be re-invested where it matters most; on patient care and service improvement

Cost savings for healthcare estates delivered through improved waste management is a guidance document published by GPT Waste that aims to educate facilities managers and estates directors about the savings that are possible through improved waste management.

It states: “The NHS spends in excess of £700m each year on waste disposal. How waste is managed within the healthcare sector has a direct impact on the bottom line for each healthcare organisation.

“Poor management of medical waste potentially exposes hospital staff, healthcare workers, waste handlers, patients and the community at large to infection, toxic effects and injuries, and risks polluting the environment.

“It is essential that the person responsible for managing the waste within each healthcare establishment fully understands its waste streams and the correct methods of disposal for each stream.

“If waste is managed incorrectly, it can become extremely costly for an organisation. By changing the shape of the decision-making process for procuring waste services across the healthcare sector, valuable funds can be released from budgets to be re-invested where it matters most; on patient care and service improvement.”

The nine-page document includes details of work GPT Waste has done with a global private hospital chain. As part of a review of waste handling practices, an audit was carried out across the business. This highlighted that several thousand tonnes of waste was being produced every year due to the existing clinical waste disposal methods that were in place. The cost to the organisation was nearly £1.3m, with 64% of waste going to landfill.

As a result of this audit, a number of improvements were proposed to the existing management systems and a tailor-made strategy was implemented. This was tracked and monitored from the outset.

Financial savings of over 20% can be achieved through a more-considered approach to the procurement of waste services and the management of the service

By correctly and accurately segregating waste, the private healthcare provider saved more than £225,000 in the first 15 months and increased its overall recycling rate to over 97%.

The White Paper states: “Savings of 15-20% can be achieved through a more-considered approach to the procurement of waste services. Those funds could be reinvested into budgets that are closer to the point of care. How many hip replacements, for example, could an NHS hospital provide for a £225,000 reduction in costs?

“Clearly, understanding how to get the best procurement deal is important, but so is developing a robust waste management strategy through understanding the options available to process waste.

“If your healthcare estate is looking to reduce cost, increase operational efficiency and improve its environmental credentials, then a revised approach to waste management should be considered.”

Click here to read the White Paper.

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