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Hospital Promises 'No Redundancies' As Private Company Brought In

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11:21am 13th June 2014
(Updated 11:21am 13th June 2014)

Plans to hand 600 staff at Treliske to a private company are condemned by unions.

Mitie will take over things like cleaning, portering and laundry.

The hospital insists there will not be redundancies - and this will offer best value for money to taxpayers.

That is despite opposition from unions, MPs and a member of its own board, who resigned.

Chris Dayus from UNISON told Pirate FM she was worried about the future terms and conditions low paid members of staff will have to work to: "We're talking about over 600 low paid staff here. They're people who only earn just above the minimum wage at the moment. Clearly that will not only have an impact on the individuals themselves and their household budgets - but it will have an effect on the economy of Cornwall.

"We worry greatly about the quality of the services. In its desire and drive for the private sector to make profits, which they have to do - we understand that - but in that drive we think the quality of the service will be driven down.

West Cornwall MP Andrew George is on the Health Select Committee. He said: "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."

A member of staff at Treliske has told Pirate FM morale is the lowest it has ever been. They say they and others are worried about contracts and feel that workers have been left out of the loop: "Morale in the hospital has absolutely gone rock bottom. We thought we got rock bottom when we heard the news originally. But now it is absolutely rock bottom. People are leaving; they're looking for other jobs. It's absolutely atrocious.

"We work in the NHS to provide care for the patients, but if you're not happy in your job then the patient care is going to suffer in some way. Not on purpose ... but you're going to be feeling 'Am I going to get paid this week?'... ' Am I going to get any hours this week?' and that's going to have a knock on effect on the care that you're giving."

In a statement Andrew MacCallum, the hospital's 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."

Pirate FM asked for an interview to put concerns around staff conditions and infection controls, but the hospital declined our offer.

11:21am 13th June 2014

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