Free collection points for sharp boxes in Fenland as council proposes clinical waste solution

PUBLISHED: 12:30 22 December 2018

Proposal to keep free collection points for sharps boxes at selected pharmacies and GP surgeries across Fenland

Proposal to keep free collection points for sharps boxes at selected pharmacies and GP surgeries across Fenland

Danny Loo Photography 2016

A proposal to keep free collection points for sharps boxes at selected pharmacies and GP surgeries across Fenland has been agreed by councillors.

Fenland District Council is planning to offer the collection points from April 1 next year, with cooperation from Community Pharmacies, when the existing pharmacy collection service provided by NHS England comes to an end.

The proposal was agreed at a full council meeting on December 13.

It follows months of debating the future of clinical waste collection and disposal in Fenland – although it still has to be agreed by individual local pharmacies and GPs.

The move comes after NHS England announced earlier this year that it would no longer be arranging for the collection of returned domestic sharps boxes from local pharmacies, as it has done for decades.

An £8 fee to collect clinical waste from individuals’ homes was set to be introduced from autumn this year when NHS England was originally due to begin withdrawing its collections.

However, the charge was postponed when a request to the NHS to delay the changes from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Waste Partnership (RECAP), which Fenland is part of, enabled other solutions to be explored.

Figures showed the estimated cost to the council of providing a free door-to-door clinical waste collection service, similar to general waste and recycling collections, would cost more than £60,000 a year for adult prescriptions alone.

The council is now proposing to introduce the existing free sharps box collection points in up to 20 local pharmacies at a cost of £18,000 a year, and in selected dispensing GP Practices at a cost of £2,000 a year.

The council will also provide a pay-as-you-go doorstep collection of clinical waste for £8 per collection, although residents, who through medical needs, require very regular collections and cases of extreme hardship, will not have to pay for the doorstep service.

Councillor Peter Murphy, portfolio holder for the environment, said: “This solution will help to minimise the impact for customers of the NHS changes and ensure a consistent service is provided across Fenland.

“It will also give customers a choice and reduce the potential cost to the taxpayer.”

A report before the council meeting said the move was also in line with approaches adopted by other local authorities across the country.

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