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140612 | Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust officially announces private firm to provide services | West Briton


Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust officially announces private firm to provide services

By WBJeff | Posted: June 12, 2014

Comments (3)

A Cornish MP from an infuential health committee has added his concerns to those expressed over plans to hand out a contract for hospital services.

In officially announcing the decision to award the contract to outsourcing firm Mitie today, Andrew MacCallum, Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) nurse executive and deputy chief executive said: “Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has today appointed Mitie to provide hotel services to patients and visitors and expect the contract to be in place later this year.

“Mitie has a successful track record of providing hotel services in other NHS trusts nationwide, including cleaning services at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

“We recognise that not everyone will agree with this decision but the Trust Board is satisfied that Mitie will improve services to patients as well as offer best value for money for the taxpayer.

“The trust’s priority is to continually improve services and we are confident that we have made the right decision for patients and the families we serve.”

But Andrew George, MP for Helston and the Lizard, said the move would be a false economy.

The criticism follows the resignation of RCHT board member Rik Evans over the decision which affects up to 600 of its lowest-paid jobs in areas including cleaning, cooking, portering, reception and security.

Mr George wrote to trust chairman Angela Ballatti expressing concern and requesting evidence the trust had undertaken a thorough 'risk assessment' of the proposals, especially in respect of the risk of worsening infection control - a problem associated with private cleaning contracts in other hospital trusts.

Mr George, a member of the House of Commons Health Select Committee said: "This short term panicking will lead to a false economy. If the private sector has some slick, whizz-bang method to achieve greater efficiency then learn from them and change the method not the provider.

"I've asked for evidence that the trust has undertaken a thorough risk assessment - especially regarding infection control - but still received no answer. My guess is that this regrettable decision would increase the risk of making things worse.

"Divvying up essential public services into separate business units all which have to 'wash their face' is just a lazy and unimaginative method of failed modern management - the kind of busy purposeful-sounding culture that gives good management a bad name.

"Instead of chopping things up and flogging them off, the trust should integrate their hotel and cleaning services into the corporate ambition. They should look at: 1) how can they help to enhance patient/visitor satisfaction and improve constructive feedback to lead to a better service; 2) how their cleaners can be better integrated into the infection control policy of the trust?

"I'm afraid that their plan will lower morale and worsen patient outcomes. This is also poor labour relations. The trust's lower-paid workers in key areas such as cleaning, portering, catering, cooking, security and reception at Royal Cornwall Hospital at Truro, St Michael's Hospital at Hayle and West Cornwall Hospital at Penzance are now at the mercy of a profit-first organisation.

"This is just placing mantra of private profit above the rights of the lowest paid.

"By adopting such an approach, staff and patients lose out. The only winners are successful tendering directors and their shareholders."

Michael Foster, Labour candidate for Camborne and Redruth, said: “Privatisation is likely to mean a reduced service to the people of Cornwall as resources are cut to ensure that shareholders make a profit.

“Six hundred Cornish jobs are at risk of having their terms and conditions cut, meaning lower wages, less security and reduced benefits.

“This is not a good outcome for the staff, patients or the local economy.”

“We would ask the management of the Royal Cornwall Hospital for full transparency in this matter and would like to know if this decision is being made for ideological reasons or for the best interests of the staff and patients at Treliske.”

Mitie declined to comment.


  • TWINSCREW | June 13 2014, 9:44AM

    I hope they have put a "trial" period on this contract and not be tied in for years at great cost as is their usual procedure. also, who will police the new regime?

    Rate 0
  • Turnerscrafts Ltd | June 12 2014, 7:53PM

    Some of us remember the fiasco when they put the cleaning contract out to private contractors at the old RCHT City years back.They obviously did not learn their lesson

    Rate 1
  • J_Concerned | June 12 2014, 3:29PM

    How refreshing to have a strong constituency MP who is unafraid to set out some very valid concerns in a forthright manner. This privatisation should be viewed very carefully; such outsourcing contracts have a habit of outliving the tenure of the hospital executives who agree to them.