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Further Sodexo Brighton Dispute

Friday, February 13, 2015

GMB Dispute Looms At Brighton And Sussex University Hospitals Over Sodexo Failure To Deal With Staff Concerns On Lack Of Equipment With Implications For Patient Safety

Without attention building works in the hospitals and lack of equipment will make the transporting of patients and the cleaning of the hospital worse and even more of a challenge for hard pressed Sodexo staff says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff in the health service, is undertaking a consultative ballot for action for porters, cleaners and housekeepers employed by Sodexo on the Brighton & Sussex University Hospital contract over the company failure to deal with staff concerns over lack of basic equipment and inadequate staffing levels that could have serious implications for patient safety.

Staff at the Royal Sussex County and Princess Royal Hospitals are being asked to work without basic equipment such as working wheelchairs and trolleys for porters and mops and cleaning cloths for cleaning staff.

These issues were first brought to Sodexo’s attention by GMB members over 12 months ago but the company has taken no action to address these concerns.

These are is the latest problems on this contract since Sodexo took it over in December 2012 covering 700 staff who provide cleaning, catering, portering, linen and grounds maintenance at the hospitals.

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser, said “There are constant reports on the severe stresses and strains placed on our hospitals and frontline NHS clinical staff through underfunding and under resourcing. However matters are further exacerbated if the equipment staff requested or are expected to use is unserviceable or non-existent.

Portering, cleaning and housekeeping are in crisis on this contract. There is a lack of fully serviceable wheelchairs, trolleys and beds. This mean that already undermanned portering teams have to spend time looking around the hospital to find a means to transport the increasing number of patients, both safely and in dignity. This shortage can often mean that equipment previously condemned and stored away awaiting repair is being pressed back into service regardless of any danger to both patient or porter whilst using it.

Likewise cleaners increasingly find themselves not being issued on a daily basis with the required number of clean mops / cloths etc, necessary in preventing cross infections. Some are having to resort to either secretly hiding things away or taking equipment from each other, just so they can ensure they carry out their own individual duties.

Morale is at an all-time low. There are also now serious concerns for patient safety. The lack of support by both Sodexo and the Trust in resolving matters over such a long time, means that despite of the very best efforts of Sodexo staff, and they are working extremely hard, they have to be failing both the Trust and Sodexo’s own acceptable service standard provision.

Neither party seem to understand this failing will only get worse as the on-going building works in the hospitals will make both the transporting of patients and the cleaning of the hospital even more of a challenge for hard pressed Sodexo staff. That is why GMB is pressing on with this consultative ballot for action to get these matters resolved.”


Contact: Gary Palmer GMB Organiser 07552 165950, Mark Turner GMB Branch Secretary 07860 787973, or Charles Harrity GMB Senior Organiser on 07977 518042, or GMB press office 07921 289880


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