Exactly as predicted: The Conservatives contracted-out an important part of the National Health Service – the disposal of medical waste – paying a private company not enough to do the job properly, and now they have blamed the company rather than taking any responsibility themselves.
Plus ca change, for those of you who know what that means.
Here‘s how the BBC has reported the story:
“A firm has been stripped of NHS contracts after hundreds of tonnes of clinical waste from hospitals was allowed to pile up at its sites.
“Health Minister Stephen Barclay said new arrangements have been made to replace the service by Healthcare Environmental Services (HES).
“In a statement to Parliament, Mr Barclay said NHS Improvement concluded that HES “failed to demonstrate that they were operating within their contractual limits.
“”Consequently, 15 NHS Trusts served termination notices to HES formally to terminate their contracts at 4pm on Sunday,” he said.
“New arrangements have been made with Mitie to “step in and replace this service” and “NHS services continue to operate as normal”, Mr Barclay told MPs.
“The Environment Agency said HES was in breach of its environmental permits at four of its six sites which deal with clinical waste – by having more waste on site than their permit allows and storing waste inappropriately.
“The EA has launched a criminal investigation.”
Hang on a second!
Hasn’t it already been reported (yes it has) that the Tory government has known about this problem for a very long time – and that HES put the parts in refrigerators on the advice of the government?
Isn’t it true (yes it is) that HES had been telling the Environment Agency about this problem for a whole year? It seems unfair for the government’s regulator to announce a criminal investigation into a company that has been blowing the whistle on the issue for that length of time.
And isn’t it true (yes it is) that the problem is one of underinvestment in the renewal of industrial incinerators by the Conservative government?
So it seems the Conservative government’s part in this matter needs to be explored in considerably greater depth.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth has touched on the government’s part in this scandal in Parliament:
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) October 9, 2018
… But there’s a lot more to be said, I think.
This is a case of an incompetent government trying to cover up its own inadequacies.
And what are we to conclude?
We could start by drawing the obvious conclusion that contracting-out public services to private contractors is always a terrible idea.
As we have seen from this scandal and that of Carillion (remember that collapse?), Tory governments always go for the cheapest deal possible – which means the company winning the contract is never able to carry out its responsibilities in a reasonable manner.
The result is an extensive – and expensive – clean-up operation that is likely to be more costly to the public purse than keeping the service in-house would have been.
And the government – whose ministers caused the fiasco in the first place – washes its hands of the whole process in an example of the kind of corruption that cries out for the imposition of far more accountability on MPs – of every grade.
What do you think?
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