A call has been made for NHS payments to a failed clinical waste contractor to be diverted to workers who were let go at Christmas without wages.
The Herald on Sunday has reported health boards owe Healthcare Environmental Services Limited (HES) around £450,000 and they continued to pay the firm after it stopped fulfilling its contract to manage NHS clinical waste.
HES ceased trading after being caught up in a row over stockpiling medical waste with the NHS last year, laying off hundreds of workers in December.
Now Scottish Labour has said the money should go to the unpaid staff.
The party’s shadow health secretary Monica Lennon said: “It is appalling that the NHS continued to pay HES hundreds of thousands of pounds despite knowing the firm was not fulfilling its obligations and it is a further insult to the workers who were dumped without pay at Christmas.
“The clinical waste scandal has exposed the incompetence at the heart of the Scottish Government and a Health Secretary who has failed to take command of the crisis.
“Any outstanding sums should be put into a fund for the workers.
“Jeane Freeman must open the books and reveal the true cost of the HES scandal to our NHS.”
MSPs have been told of a backlog of between 250 and 300 tonnes of clinical waste and 10 tonnes of anatomical waste at Scottish HES sites in Dundee and Shotts, North Lanarkshire.
The firm has previously denied claims human body parts were among waste stockpiled at its sites but Environment Agency reports said the company stored remains of NHS patients in unrefrigerated units for more than six months.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Payment of services are a matter for individual NHS health boards. When HES became unable to fulfil their contracted clinical waste services, it became within the rights of health boards to withhold payments to HES.
“Unless HES formally enters insolvency, it is the company that remains liable for unpaid wages. Since HES ceased trading, we have provided support and advice to ex-employees through our PACE initiative. This includes assistance in finding alternative employment and accessing redundancy payments.
“We will continue to offer support where we can.”