Hospital cleaners’ hours to be cut

This is from the Swindon Evening Advertiser.

FEWER hours will be spent cleaning the town’s hospital and cooking for patients, it has been revealed. Staff who clean and cook at the Great Western Hospital are set to have their hours cut under the new plans.

Public sector union Unison says the move, which it claims involves a contract company cutting £600,000 from its budget, could see more patients at risk of hospital- acquired infections such as MRSA and C-diff.

But hospital bosses say the move will see staff working more efficiently and see some cleaning brought back under nurse control.

“What we are talking about is cutting the total number of hours worked by some of the lowest paid people in the health service,” said Joanne Kaye Smith, Unison’s head of health for the south west.

“If you think that a cleaner or caterer is paid less than £6 an hour then this cut represents a huge reduction in the number of hours being worked at the hospital. This would be a bad idea whenever it was floated – but this timing is appalling.”

The Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust runs the Great Western Hospital but private contractor Carillion Health provides the facility’s catering, cleaning, portering and maintenance services.

Unison says Carillion has been asked to make the cuts to make up for a cash shortfall at the trust.It says a Government shake-up of pay for NHS staff, coupled with new waste costs, means the trust is almost £600,000 out of pocket – almost exactly the size of the cuts Carillion has been asked to make.

“The changes being implemented by Carillion in no way reduce the quality of cleaning or catering services within the trust,” said trust communication manager Chris Birdsall.

The standards that Carillion work to, and which are constantly monitored, have not changed. There will be a reduction in the number of hours worked but improved ways of working so we will not need as many hours to be done.

For example, we are bringing in ride-on scrubber dryers which can perform the cleaning task 400 per cent quicker than an individual. We are aware of Unison’s concerns but we are committed to fighting infection in the Great Western Hospital and have a good record in this area.”

Ms Kaye-Smith said: “The NHS isn’t just about doctors and nurses. It is about a team of people who provide an excellent service and who all contribute to survival rates. Part of the trust’s argument with us has been that it is already spending more on cleaning than other hospitals. But rather than saying we are spending this because we are committed to keeping patients free from infection, the trust is saying we’re spending more than others, let’s cut it down.”

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