Trade union demands answers over cleanliness fears at University Hospital Wishaw

A trade union has approached this newspaper about the cleaning regime in a hospital where rising numbers of local Covid -19 patients are treated.

Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 9:51 am

The UNISON Lanarkshire Health branch has raised concerns about a trend revealed within an internal investigation at University Hospital Wishaw .

This stated that “not all of the enhanced cleaning processes put in place as a result of the pandemic are still be carried out.”

And that’s just not good enough, says branch secretary Margo Cramner, who has slammed Serco, the private contractor involved.

The union has also asked NHS Lanarkshire to explain itself amidst claims that saving cash has been prioritised over the safety of vulnerable patients at a critical time.

Details of the set-up emerged when irate rank and file members came forward – on grounds of public safety.

An appalled Ms Cramner said: “We were alerted to lapses in the Serco cleaning regime by members who reported that the provider had told them that the enhanced cleaning had been stopped because NHS Lanarkshire had stopped paying for this service.

“NHS Lanarkshire has since confirmed that no funding was removed from the Serco service and, indeed, the Gold Command recently verified the uplift to the University Hospital Wishaw contract price, most of which consolidates the existing enhanced service.

“There are very serious questions to be answered here by both parties about how we could end up in a situation, in the middle of a pandemic, where enhanced cleaning of the hospital was not being carried out.

“We believe there should be an independent enquiry into these serious contract breaches.”

Her colleague, UNISON’s Regional Organiser Johanna Baxter added: “There is something seriously wrong when a private company can simply stop the enhanced cleaning of a hospital in the middle of a pandemic.

“This is why privatisation of these services does not work – profit is put before patient safety.

“We will not stand for it.”

“UNISON have long campaigned for these services to be brought back in-house and will be stepping up that campaign now.”

When the Motherwell Times presented the board with both these statements, we were assured the matter was in hand – by further scrutinising the process by which the facility was being cleaned.

Dr Jane Burns, NHS Lanarkshire Medical Director, said: “We are working hard to do everything we can to minimise the level of infection at the hospital.

“ This includes a thorough review, through our clinical review procedure, of all potential causes of the increased Covid-19 cases at University Hospital Wishaw.

“The review will take an in depth look at infection levels throughout the hospital and identify what more can be done to tackle this.”

Last week we reported that anyone requiring the services of Accident and Emergency personnel was advised to call 111 first.

The rule still applies in this and all other hospitals across Scotland after it was decided to limit access to buildings.

It will remain in place for the foreseeable future, unless there is deemed to be a danger to the patient’s life.