CASH-STRAPPED health bosses are paying £250,000 a month to dispose of clinical waste because the firm awarded a £100 million contract to destroy it is not yet operational.

The figures emerged in board papers showing that NHS Greater Glasgow a Clyde must also deliver service cuts worth £75 million in the current financial year.

Health boards across Scotland have faced a clinical waste crisis since the Shotts-based firm which previously disposed of it, Healthcare Environmental Services Ltd (HES), was embroiled in a UK-wide scandal in October last year.

It emerged that HES, which also handled waste disposal for 17 NHS England trusts, had allowed huge stockpiles of human waste including amputated limbs, organs, syringes and infectious liquids to build up.

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It was subsequently stripped of its NHS contracts and ceased trading in December, making 150 of its Scottish staff redundant.

Former HES boss Garry Pettigrew has blamed the problem on a lack of incineration capacity across the UK.

Health boards have since had to pay other providers to destroy their clinical waste, at around double the rate charged by HES.

NHS GGC said it had spent £400,000 in 2018/19 on "contingency measures to collect and destroy clinical waste". It allocated an additional £1m to cover disposal costs in 2019/20, but said this was no longer enough.

The board papers state: "The new contractor has experienced delays in obtaining planning consent for a new facility, therefore the contingency arrangements will be in place for longer.

"This will cost the Board an additional £0.25m per month from August 2019."

The Scottish Government has awarded a new 10-year clinical waste contract, worth £10m annually, to Spanish-owned Tradebe Healthcare.

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It was scheduled to begin work in April, but this was pushed back to August 2 and was delayed waiting for planning permission from North Lanarkshire Council.

A spokeswoman for Tradebe said it was granted planning permission on July 30 and expects to be operational in October.

She added: "The final phase of the regulatory approval, the environmental permit, has been submitted to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) for approval.

"Key staff have been recruited, the equipment is being installed and will be ready for validation once SEPA has issued the necessary Permit. This timetable allows Tradebe to be operational in Bellshill in October."

Labour MSP Monica Lennon, whose constituency covers Shotts, has questioned why the former HES incineration site, which remains functional, could not have been used instead.

She said: "The botched handling of the clinical waste scandal continues to have financial repercussions that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde can ill-afford – and there is still no confirmation of when the new contractor will take over and help ease the financial burden.

“This state of affairs is simply not good enough.”

The unexpected cost comes as NHS GGC is battles to deliver savings worth £75m in the 12 months to the end of March 2020.

The board papers state that this target "has been allocated across all service areas and equates to a savings challenge of 4.36 per cent".

NHS GGC said it had achieved some savings by cutting bureaucracy, but remains "significantly short of the £75m target".

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One of the pressure points is increased spending on the NHS estate, which health bosses say is no longer sustainable without cuts to other departments.

NHS Glasgow ramped up its bill for maintenance in the wake of a critical report by inspectors in March, which said that cleanliness at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) was being hampered by a backlog of repairs.

This has resulted in an overspend on the property maintenance budget of £1.6m.

The board papers add: "The current level of property maintenance spend is unsustainable, unless funds can be released from another area of business."

At the QEUH campus, £1.7m has been allocated from the capital budget to fund a ventilation upgrade, while another £2.5m will be spent to replace cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “The SNP’s mismanagement of health service finances – at a time when spending across the UK is at a record level – is inexcusable.”

A spokeswoman for NHS GGC said: "We have a budget of £3.2billion but in line with other health boards we are required to live within our means and use our resources to secure maximum benefit for patients.

"Significant progress has been made to identify areas that can improve efficiency, productivity and release costs to assist the Board in achieving financial balance."

She added: "The NHS in Scotland has had to take contingency measures for the disposal of clinical waste and we have made a financial provision in our budget for this."

A spokeswoman for Scottish Government said: “We increased NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s budget by over £55 million this year, taking the Board’s total funding to a record high of more than £2.2 billion.”