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Further failure by Carillion

carillion-GWH1The publication today of a damning report by the Care Quality Commissionn about cleaning standards at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital comes as no surprise. Cleaning is the responsibility of the rogue private services provider, Carillion. The cleaning staff are diligent and hard working, but Carillion have simply failed to meet their responsibilities.

The CQC report was the result of an inspection in October, and Carillion claim that:

“we have taken the CQC’s observations on board and have already identified and implemented some actions to make cleaning more effective and to address the issues raised.”

However, since the inspection, Carillion have actually reduced their cleaning staff levels by cutting 30 cleaners’ jobs: as the terms being offered were reasonably generous, many staff did apply for voluntary redundancy.

The GMB held an industrial action ballot over shift and rota changes for the remaining staff that saw an almost unanimous yes vote for industrial action, on a 84% turn out, and consequently Carillion did make significant changes to their original plans in order to meet staff objections. However, GMB warned of the impact on cleaning quality standards back in September:

“The changes will mainly affect housekeeping staff and ward hostesses, …. Of the current cleaning workforce of 200, around 20 will be made redundant, but every member of staff will be doing 80 hours less cleaning each year.

Carole Vallelly, GMB organiser, said “There will be fewer cleaners per ward, and those cleaners will have fewer hours to maintain the cleaning standards on those wards. Carillion are seeking to get the same amount of cleaning done with fewer staff, and the longer shifts will inevitably lead to a reduction of work quality.”

GMB members warned that some of the new cleaning practices would be impossible, with a reduction in the number of cleaners per ward, and in some cases units being cleaned while they are open with patients in them, rather than being cleaned when they are closed at the end of the day. Indeed, one caller on BBC Radio Wiltshire this morning specifically raised concerns of her experience of rooms being cleaned while patients were still occupying them, and cleaners having to ask patients to move their chairs.

Carillion has been unabashed in acknowledging that the reductions in cleaning staff numbers at GWH are due to a desire to save money.  There has to be very serious concern that the PFI contract to run Wiltshire’s largest hospital is in the hands of a company that fails and fails again.

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