HOSPITAL workers are risking spreading infections by moving between kitchens and cleaning jobs on wards without changing their clothes, according to union officials.
Staff employed by Great Western Hospital contractor Carillion have allegedly been transferred from the kitchens in their catering uniforms to other areas before returning to carry out cooking duties.
The practices contravene best practice, according to the GMB, which brought up the complaints at Swindon Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Chris Watts, of the GMB Swindon and Wiltshire branch, said: “GMB has received information from our members of work practices that contravene infection control best practice at GWH. It has been reported that cleaners are being moved from ward to ward in a single shift and have also been moved between surgical areas and wards.
“We have also received information that staff working in catering have been moved from the kitchens in their catering uniforms to clean wards, and then sent back into the kitchens with the same uniforms.”
GMB branch secretary Andy Newman said: “This is an example of what happens when a private company that prioritises profits above patient care gets involved in the NHS. Carillion seem to be engaging in petty cost cutting, and bullying their staff into silence"
Gemma Lynch, Carllion facilities general manager, said: “Carillion is increasingly frustrated that the GMB continues to stir up discontent at the Great Western Hospital where it does not represent the majority of our staff, and is not recognised.
“In August we offered in good faith to enter talks with the GMB via ACAS to resolve this dispute. Sadly these talks were declared finished by the GMB on the day they opened – October 10.”
Mrs Lynch added: “We are ensuring that high standards are being maintained at the hospital at all times.
“There is no cost cutting as the GMB alleges and nothing that would compromise the standard of our services to patients and the Trust who remain our priority.
“There is a requirement for all staff to work flexibly to meet the needs of the business and the Trust which, sometimes, will require a change to the area in which they work.
“In these instances strict infection and control procedures are followed. Carillion maintains an excellent relationship with the Trust infection and prevention control team and works in partnership to ensure standards are met at all times.”