Food standards under threat as Luton and Dunstable outsources services

UNISON has said standards will fall and patients suffer after Luton and Dunstable Hospital Trust chose to privatise a range of services

Despite a public demonstration and campaigning by the union, the trust announced its decision on Wednesday to outsource catering, domestic and ward housekeeping to the private sector.

This is likely to see an end to freshly-prepared meals for patients, with chilled food being brought to the hospital and reheated.

Regional organiser Cheryl Godber said: “The decision is disappointing and disheartening to staff delivering these key services to patients, relatives and staff.

“The board could have chosen to not go down this road, but instead has chosen to privatise these services. This sends out a strong message to staff that the services they deliver are not valued by the trust.

“We will be arranging urgent meetings with our members to discuss this situation and what options they have.”

No company has yet been named in connection with the contract, but UNISON believes that, since all companies have a legal obligation to maximise profits on behalf of shareholders, standards and quality of service will suffer as a result of the outsourcing.

Ms Godber continued: “We know the local community will also be disappointed in this decision. At the end of the day, if you or a loved one have to be hospitalised, then you want your environment to be clean and you want freshly-prepared food, not heated-up, pre-cooked food.

“This will not be the case in the future at this trust and we are concerned that the excellent, high-quality services currently provided by hardworking, loyal staff will be a thing of the past.

“We will continue to work with the affected staff, the local community and others to campaign against this decision, with a clear message that no part of the NHS is for sale.”