George – “RCHT privatisation is a false economy”

Posted on: 11th June 2014

West Cornwall MP, Andrew George has warned the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust that an anticipated decision to award private contractor Mitie a new contract to take over a number of services across Cornwall’s hospitals would be a false economy.

Mr George wrote to Trust Chair Angela Ballatti last month expressing concern and requesting evidence that 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 who’ve gone down that route.

Mr George, who is 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.