Quote of the Month: Mr Nick Patterson

Westminster had 42 major hospitals and clinics within its boundaries at the time and there were no clear guidelines and no definition of who did what with clinical wastes: they just all went in the bin. We had a number of instances where refuse collectors were covered with blood because blood bags would go in the bins and when the compression plate came down it sprayed them. We had needle stick injuries and everything else. In today’s health and safety climate, you would throw your hands up in horror but in those days it was just wash yourself off and get on with it.Nobody ever complained, it was just part and parcel of the job. Mr Nick Patterson, The Development of Waste Management in the UK c.1960–c.2000.

Mr Nick Patterson (b. 1946) worked for over 40 years in the waste industry, starting on the rounds as a refuse collector in Westminster City Council in 1968. He progressed through the Council’s management training scheme and was appointed Operations Manager for the refuse collection service until the privatization of the service in 1989. He then worked with Veolia as contract manager at the City of London (4 years), Heathrow (11 years) and finally at the London Borough of Brent (4 years). In 1981 he presented a paper entitled ‘Hospital Waste’ to the CIWM (then IWM), which resulted in the GLC taking up his recommendations for the management of clinical waste.