Hillingdon Hospital never sleeps, and neither does its incineration plant, which processes 24 tonnes of material a day.
The plant, run by private contractor SRCL, disposes of clinical waste ranging from used bandages and scalpels to medicines and anatomical remains.
Cytotoxic wastes, such as body fluids and needles, have to remain in the incinerator for four hours burning at 1000 degrees fahrenheit - about 537 degrees celsius, until all harmful toxins have been removed.
Each week, a team of workers dressed in heat resistant body suits enter the still hot chamber and begin the laborious task of chipping, scraping and shovelling away the detritus that has built up during the previous week.
Scott Davidson, general manager at the plant said: "It’s always surprising to see how much waste a hospital generates but the steam generated from the incineration process is used to heat the hospital all year round and harmlessly turned back into water during the summer months when the full capacity of heat is not needed by the hospital
"One of our biggest challenges is being located within fifty feet of residential properties so we go into lockdown at 6pm each night and close all the external shutters to minimise any disturbance.
"The neighbours are very tolerant and along with the trust are always forefront in our minds in whatever we do at the site," he said.
A software feed to the Environment Agency allows it to remotely monitor the incinerator’s activity and the various levels of flue gases to ensure they are safely burnt off and filtered.
The incinerator reduces its weekly load to just six tonnes of ash which is then transported to a landfill site.