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Clinical and healthcare waste collections

What is clinical waste?

It is waste produced from healthcare and medical treatments. It may cause infection or be hazardous to handle.

It is any waste that:

  • comes from medical treatment (even when it happens at home)
  • contains human tissues
  • contains blood or other bodily fluids (this excludes incontinence waste in nappies or pads)
  • is contaminated with medication or contains medication residues

What are typical clinical waste items?

Typical items are:

  • sharps including syringes, needles, finger pricking devices and lancets
  • home dialysis equipment including plastic tubes, bags and pouches
  • swabs and bandages

Patients need a referral from a GP/healthcare professional to receive clinical waste collections

This service is only available to residential households in Tower Hamlets, We cannot collect clinical waste without a referral from a GP or healthcare professional.

You can get referrals for the service from NHS surgeries in Tower Hamlets that have access to the online referral form via the EMIS system.

Clinicians who do not have access to EMIS, must contact us and request access

Email: clinical.waste@towerhamlets.gov.uk 

Confirmations and customer contact

  • We send a confirmation email, that we received the referral, immediately after the form is submitted.
  • It can take up to 10 working days to set up the service.
  • After 10 working days from the referral date, patients can
    • check their collection day or
    • request a collection, depending on what frequency of service they have been referred for
  • Patients can also use self-service forms or call Customer Services if they don’t have access to the internet
  • We do not contact patients or surgeries to confirm that the service is set up

Who cannot arrange clinical waste collections?

Healthcare professionals that treat residents at home must remove and dispose of any clinical waste it causes.

We do not collect from non-residential places such as health centres and pharmacies.

We don't provide commercial clinical waste collections at the moment.

If you're a business, you need to arrange for an authorised/licensed carrier to collect your clinical waste.

Collections from schools for pupils being treated while in their care

We can collect clinical waste for pupils requiring treatment at the school from the school. Pupils must be referred by their GP for the service with the school’s address as the collection address.

The service will be set up for the duration of the school year and will end each year on 31 July. If the pupil remains in the school for the next academic year, they must be re-referred by their clinician.

How do your patients prepare their clinical waste for collection?

Clinical waste must never be put in wheeled bins, recycling, or black sacks. 

It must be handled with care to prevent harm to collectors and the environment.

  • Sharps and needles should always be securely placed in the plastic yellow boxes.
  • Other clinical waste items should be put in yellow sacks.
  • Waste must be stored in a safe place and made available on collection day

When is clinical waste collected?

Clinical waste is collected between 8am and 5pm on your scheduled day.

Someone needs to be at home for the collection.

How often is clinical waste collected?

The clinician decides how ow often is clinical waste collected during the patient referral process.

One-off collections

  • A one-off collection for when the treatment ends
  • The clinician gives the treatment end date while referring the patient
  • The patient requests a collection within 3 months of the treatment end date using the webform
  • If the treatment has already ended, the clinician provides a referral date as end date, and the patient needs to request collection within 3 months

Six weekly collections

Weekly collections

  • Collection every week, on a scheduled day
  • Available only for bagged clinical waste
  • Patients can check collection day

Ad Hoc collections

  • For patients who can have collections less frequently than once every six weeks (we can provide 5l or 22l replacement boxes)
  • Patient requests collection using the web form every time they need a collection
  • Patients who do not have access to the internet can call Customer Services on 020 7364 5004

Replacement sacks and sharps boxes

  • A new replacement sharps box/clinical waste sack will be provided at the time of collection. It can take up to two weeks to process a referral, lead time to first collection will range from 2 weeks for ad hoc/one off to 8 weeks for six weekly collections. Clinicians must provide sufficient storage until the first collection.
  • The clinician recommends the appropriate size of the sharps box and number of boxes at the time of patient referral.

Missed collections

  • If the patient is on regular, scheduled collections and the crew did not come on the scheduled day, the patient can report a missed collection.
  • The crew will collect the following working day.

Other types of healthcare waste

Incontinence pads

If these are non-infectious, they can be put in with the patient’s black sack collection.

They must be:

  • double bagged and securely tied
  • never put into the bin loose

If you’re not sure if you are producing infectious waste, please speak to your healthcare professional.

Medication

Residents can take old, out of date or surplus medication back to their local pharmacy.

Your personal data

Our operational services privacy notice explains how we will handle your personal information.

Any other questions?

If you have any other questions about our services, you can contact us at clinical.waste@towerhamlets.gov.uk 

If you are unable to use online forms, please call 020 7364 5000