UNISON fights to save award-winning hospital catering

‘Outstanding’ hospital catering at Hitchingbrooke Hospital is under threat from North West Anglia NHS Trust decision

Over 2,200 have signed a UNISON petition to stop North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust from outsourcing the award-winning catering service at Hitchingbrooke Hopsital.

The hospital, which was named as one of the top 10 hospitals in the country for food, is set to have 70 roles put out to tender, including kitchen, linen and patient services.

As reported in the Hunts Post, UNISON ran a webinar with health expert Dr John Lister. He claimed that “private companies will not be able to match the quality and level” of the outstanding service currently provided at the hospital.

He concluded that “Outsourcing will undermine the quality of services, break up a team and lose the expertise and dedication of staff who have maintained an outstanding level; all for the sake of a few quid.”

Last year North West Anglia NHS Trust was rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission because it was not safe, responsive or well-led enough. UNISON says the outsourcing of services would only make this worse.

UNISON North West Anglia branch secretary Sam Hemraj also read out a statement at the webinar from the staff subject to being outsourced.

In the statement staff said they felt ‘worthless’, that their ‘world fell apart’ when told they were being put out to tender and that being subject to a bidding process feels ‘inhumane’.

“We feel we have no voice, and although we don’t know how this will end, we know that this is ugly, unfair and not befitting of any NHS trust. They cannot take away our dignity,” it read.

Hinchingbrooke was the first NHS hospital to be run by the private sector when Circle took it over in 2012, but performance was so bad and the firm was not making enough money, so handed the hospital back just three years later.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Cheryl Godber added: “It’s simply staggering that North West Anglia NHS is plotting to fragment so many of its vital services in the midst of the biggest public health crisis in generations.

“Cost-cutting firms running cleaning, catering and other hospital facilities always presents a risk to patient safety but to do it now is downright reckless.

“It’s also worrying to see that the Trust hasn’t learnt from the failed privatisation experiment at Hinchingbrooke that showed outsourcing is an unsuccessful way of delivering public services.

“NHS chiefs must abandon these dangerous plans so we can all pull together through this crisis.”