Hygiene regulations are potentially being breached at a hospital in Swindon, it has been claimed, as employees and bosses go head to head in a health row.
Union officials have suggested that staff have been asked to carry out cleaning jobs on the wards before spending time in the kitchens. Throughout this procedure they are not forced to change their clothes in a bid to restrict the possibility of infections spreading.
The Swindon Advertiser has reported that the GMB brought up the issue at Swindon Council's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Contractor Carillion is tasked with performing many of the maintenance duties at Great Western Hospital (GWH) and it is there that the practice has allegedly been carried out.
Chris Watts, from the GMB Swindon and Wiltshire branch, said: "GMB has received information from our members of work practices that contravene infection control best practice at GWH. It has been reported that cleaners are being moved from ward to ward in a single shift and have also been moved between surgical areas and wards."
He went on to note that catering staff have spent time both in the kitchens and on the wards in the same uniform.
GMB branch secretary Andy Newman was similarly dismayed, commenting that this is the result of outsourcing important work to a private company that puts profit above patient care. He suggested Carillion has been guilty of "petty cost cutting", resulting in the hygiene offences.
But Carillion's facilities general manager Gemma Lynch hit back at the claims, remarking that her firm is "increasingly frustrated" at the attempts by GMB to "stir up discontent" among staff at GWH.
She also confirmed there have been no cost cutting measures imposed on the hospital and its standards remain incredibly high.
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of this particular case, hospitals should be reminded that patient care is a priority and the effective use of cleaning products can go a long way towards securing this.