Redbridge hospital trust criticised over proposal to move sterile services unit 40 miles away
PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 September 2017
The borough’s hospital trust is facing criticism over a proposal to transfer its sterilisation unit 40 miles away.
Currently, the unit is in the grounds of King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes.
Around 60 people work for Steris, which sterilises instruments for operating theatres, clinics, wards and A&E for both Queen’s Hospital and King George.
But now, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Trust is proposing to award the contract to IHSS Ltd in Maidstone, Kent, about 40 miles away.
Staff fearing job losses and compromises to patient safety have spoken to the Recorder in protest at the anticipated decision.
Stephanie Snell, who has worked at the site for 26 years, said that patients must come first.
She said: “All of us are extremely worried and do not think the service should be transferred off site.
“What if a big emergency happens? We can currrently turn work around in less than five hours.
“How can that happen if the service is over 35 miles away? What if there is an accident or bad traffic?”
The approval of the firm’s tender will be formally revealed after the end of a mandatory “standstill period” at midnight on Friday, September 8.
The protest is also being supported by unions and the MP for lford South, Mike Gapes.
Mr Gapes said: “I have written to the BHRUT’s chief executive twice to raise serious concerns I have around moving sterilisation services from King George Hospital to Maidstone.
“Not only does this put around 60 jobs at risk, but it is also not clear how fast surgery instruments can be sterilised and transported to King George and Queen’s hospitals in an emergency from some 40 miles away in Maidstone.”
Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of BHRUT, said: “We would like to reassure patients that their safety is of the very highest priority and is at the forefront of all our decisions regarding the provision of our services.
“Any claims about the risk to patients are entirely baseless and without merit.
“We would not implement any service change which compromised safety, or increased any risk to patients.
“We appreciate that tendering processes such as this can create some uncertainty for those employees affected, but we are unable to comment further at this stage.”
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