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A reader emailed a link to an article in today’s Daily Mirror: “NHS trust tears up deal with cleaning contractor after nurses were forced to clean their own wards”. Reading the story, I learned that Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has apparently ended the £200million, five-year contract to run its estates & facilities services two years early, after complaints about overflowing bins, rats in food preparation areas and nurses forced to clean their wards.
Around 1,500 staff had transferred to Carillion following the contract award in April 2014. The Trust told reporters that it plans to move Carillion staff back, adding that the two organisations have “mutually agreed to a managed exit” from the contract.
The story had a link (oh the wonders of the Internet!) to an October article, which said Healthwatch had demanded Carillion be stripped of the contract because of its “abysmal” management and “poor record of cleanliness”.
A further link to an August 2015 article, revealed that since the contract had been in operation, Trust cases of Norovirus and c.diff had doubled.
Several hospital users were quoted voicing disappointment – not only with standards, but with the performance of cleaners, who they watched going about their work as if they didn’t take pride in it.
The reader comment didn’t surprise: “Get rid of contract companies and employ an actual department in the hospital so they know what’s going on and will save money in the long haul. £200million is far too much for one hospital to spend on a cleaning contractor; I would love to know where the money actually goes! It’s like no one wants to take responsibility for anything, so contract it out and think 'out of sight, out of mind’!”
I have no idea why Carrillion was apparently performing so badly on this contract…
Had the contract value been negiotiated so tightly that it couldn’t possibly provide the service it wanted to, for the money (after all, it covered far more than cleaning)? Was it a case of poor supervision of the cleaners themselves, or lack of training or equipment? What was staff turnover like? Were the problems communicated properly as soon as they surfaced, or left to fester? What about the relationship between the contract manager and the client?
What do we, as an industry, do to combat this type of comment, which I see so often these days? I’d love to know…
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2nd February 2017