Date issued: 29 January 2019
Residents who home medicate are to have their needles and other clinical waste collected for free by Colchester Borough Council.
The council is moving to scrap its charges for collecting clinical waste from people’s homes, following the ending of the free NHS England clinical waste collection service on 1 January.
For many years, the council has had a statutory responsibility to provide a clinical waste collection service but has always charged for this due to the specialist steps that need to be taken for collecting and disposing of the waste.
Until the start of this year, NHS England provided a free clinical waste collection service. This means people who self-administer their medication at home now need to seek alternative ways of disposing of their medical waste – including needles, catheters, colostomy bags, and dressings.
While the council is not receiving any additional funding to support the collection of this clinical waste, it has now decided to absorb the cost and provide it free of charge. The council does receive 30 per cent of disposal costs of the waste from Essex County Council.
Councillor Martin Goss, Portfolio Holder for Waste, Environment and Transportation, said: “People who are having to self-medicate to help maintain their quality of life are facing enough anxiety, without the pressure of having to find additional money to dispose of their needles and dressings.
“This is why we have reviewed these charges and taken the decision to move to scrap our fees for clinical waste collections. There are some legal steps we must take before completely removing the charges, but we are seeking to do this as quickly as possible.
“Once again it is another example of council’s being expected to pick up these additional responsibilities without any extra funding. However, following NHS England’s decision to end their free service, I feel we have a moral duty to step in and offer this without charge to prevent people suffering any additional worry and stress.”
Once the fees have been removed, anyone who has been charged by the council from 1 January for the collection of their clinical waste will be refunded.