Catering row breaks out at Luton hospital

Trade union representatives have hit out at Luton and Dunstable (L&D) Hospital’s plans to outsource its catering and cleaning services.

Local representatives of UNISON are concerned about the increase in costs to the hospital and fear there will be a repeat of last time services were outsourced when they were brought back in-house after problems.

However, the hospital maintains the move will free up cash to pump back into items such as catering equipment.

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A spokesman for Luton and Dunstable Hospital told the Luton On Sunday: “Outsourcing will have the benefits of greater flexibility. For example, it will allow for the provision of hot meals when patients are admitted into hospital outside daytime hours.

“It will also enable the freeing up of existing space for clinical use and the investment of additional capital into better catering and cleaning equipment.”

But Paul O’Brien, UNISON Branch Secretary at the Trust, said he was concerned the process was “doomed to be an expensive failure”.

He said: “Considering both the cleaning and catering departments have been underfunded for such a long time, they have managed to do an excellent job in maintaining the standards that are expected of them.

“I don’t understand what they hope to achieve by outsourcing both departments, especially as the NHS Hospital Trust has admitted that it would actually cost them more money for an outside company to run the catering department than it would to fund the developments themselves and to run the service in-house.”

It is understood that the hospital has begun the tender but not yet appointed a preferred partner to provide the services.

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