SelkirkFollowing the deadly Ebola outbreak in Africa, PyroPure’s Peter Selkirk explains why the UK should treat the development of on-site medical waste disposal technology as a priority.

The UK is woefully 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-evaluate the way in which they dispose of it in order to significantly boost 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It is too risky to continue the outdated practices of storage of infected hospital waste and its transportation over the highways to incinerators. There are a number of ‘touch points’ through the cradle to grave waste disposal chain where manual handling poses a risk.

A report by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) confirms that thousands of people continue to die unnecessarily from hospital-acquired infections and that healthcare associated infections are estimated to cost the NHS approximately £1 billion per year.

The UK must adopt a smarter approach to the way in which it manages clinical waste; one that not only reduces risks and incidents of infection but also processes that doesn’t leave anything to chance.

Peter Selkirk is executive chairman at UK based small scale on-site medical waste pyrolysis system technology developer, PyroPure.

The company recently received funding from the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, to develop its technology. (See WMW story)

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