Following the deadly Ebola outbreak in Africa, it has been questioned whether the development of on-site medical waste disposal technology should be treated as a priority in the UK.
The UK is worryingly underprepared when it comes to hazardous waste disposal in high-risk environments and too reliant on out-dated procedures that leave those responsible for waste collection vulnerable and open to infection.
Whilst Ebola represents a small risk to the UK, the healthcare sector and industries responsible for managing high-risk waste should re-examine the way in which they dispose of it in order to enhance infection control and reduce the chances of contamination.
Whilst a widespread UK outbreak of Ebola remains unlikely, the devastation it has caused in West Africa should provide a wakeup call.
It is too risky to continue the outdated practices of storage of infected hospital waste and its transportation over the highways to incinerators.
A report by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) confirms that thousands of people die unnecessarily from hospital-acquired infections and that healthcare associated infection costs the NHS an estimated £1 billion per year.
The UK must implement a smarter approach to the way in which it manages clinical waste; one that reduces risks and incidents of infection and doesn’t leave anything to chance.