Birmingham Women’s Hospital

Making the disposal of sharps safer and easier for staff at Birmingham Women’s Hospital

Originally a maternity hospital, Birmingham Women’s Hospital (BWH) now provides a wide range of specialist healthcare for women and their families from across Birmingham and the West Midlands and beyond. Today, BWH is a leader in the development of life-saving treatments through its clinical research, treating 50,000 people a year, carrying out 3,000 operations and testing more than 50,000 genetic samples.

Stericycle has been delivering a clinical waste collection and disposal service to BWH since 2009, including the appropriate treatment and/or disposal of non-hazardous healthcare waste, infectious waste, infectious sharps, non-medicinal sharps, and medicines. As part of its continuous improvements, the hospital was looking for ways to increase the sustainability of its operations and decided to use Stericycle’s Bio Systems Sharps Management service, featuring reusable containers.

Bio Systems increases sustainability
Stericycle introduced the Bio Systems service at BWH in 2013 via a phased approach. Pam Cooper, head of facilities at BWH, says: “The phased approach ensured a smooth transition from single-use containers as it gave Stericycle and the hospital an opportunity to fine-tune the service requirements to the needs of staff using the containers.”

One year after the initial introduction of the Sharps Management service it was fully implemented across all wards and areas.

Each of Stericycle’s UN-approved Bio Systems containers can be reused up to 600 times, as opposed to traditional single-use sharps containers that are incinerated along with the sharps waste after just one use.

Once collected, filled Bio Systems containers are taken to the Stericycle treatment facility where they are opened, emptied and disinfected using an automated wash-line featuring state-of-the-art robotics. The disinfected containers are then inspected and assembled before being returned to the hospital for reuse. The use of Bio Systems in a typical 1200-bed hospital saves 11.5 tonnes of CO2 being generated per year.  For BWH there have been significant environmental benefits.

The benefits of a quick and responsive service
BWH uses 7.5 litre and 30 litre Bio Systems containers. With hands-free operation, the 30 litre containers are well-suited to theatres while the 7.5 litre containers are mainly used in the delivery suites.

Stericycle completes an audit of the service each quarter to ensure that containers are being used correctly, waste is being segregated correctly, containers are placed in the appropriate areas, and that they have the correct colour lid. Additionally, Stericycle supports BWH with any waste segregation training requests or materials.

Pam says: “Since the service began, we have reselected containers to suit the requirements of ward staff. Vertical-drop lid containers were swapped for the horizontal lid containers due to the positioning of the containers within the anaesthetic room. Changing the container made the disposal of sharps in this room safer and easier for staff.”

Pam says BWH has found the service to be “very quick and responsive”. “It’s just one email or phone call and the containers are here the next day.”