Ipswich: Job losses at Ipswich Hospital may put patients at risk, claim

IPSWICH: Fears have been raised about the cleanliness of Ipswich Hospital after cleaners face another wave of redundancies, the Evening Star can today reveal.

Contractor ISS has confirmed they are looking to axe further staff after 20 positions were made redundant earlier this year.

It is feared another 20 jobs will be lost.

In a letter sent to Unison members working at the hospital, the union representative for Suffolk Tim Roberts said they have been informed of planned redundancies affecting staff who clean the post room, lifts and corridors, catering department, help-desk receptions and members of the management team.

A whistleblower has contacted the Evening Star to reveal fears about the cleanliness of some parts of the Heath Road hospital.

The cleaner, who asked to remain anonymous, said he is concerned the new round of cuts, which he believes will see 20 further jobs axed, will leave patients’ health at risk.

But a spokesman for the contractors ISS – who employ around 500 support staff at Ipswich Hospital across catering, cleaning, porter services, security and other departments – vowed to maintain high cleaning standards.

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“It looks as thought there will be as many jobs lost as last time,” the whistleblowing cleaner said. “I can’t understand why they are doing it.

“There are already parts of the hospital which are filthy, that is not going to get any better with less cleaning staff.

“Already there are other cost cutting measures, we are not allowed three-way toilet cleaner because it costs too much.”

He said morale among staff is at an “all time low”.

“My job is at risk,” he added. “Staff are upset, worrying about their futures.

“These cuts will have even more of a negative impact than the last round.

“As well as the redundancies, other staff have left and not been replaced so hygiene is going to be hit hard. It is dangerous to patients.”

He said when arriving at work last Tuesday he was asked to clear up vomit which had been in the outpatients’ reception for 15 hours.

A hospital spokeswoman said all patients deserve the highest standards of care.

She said: “We are concerned to hear this man’s concerns and will look into it.

“Patient safety is our hospital’s top priority and the contract we have with our cleaning providers defines both our very high standards and those laid out by the national NHS guidelines.

“We will carefully monitor the contract to ensure the high standards we expect continue to be maintained.”

The ISS spokesman confirmed that after 20 members of staff were made redundant earlier this year, the company is “considering further changes within its staffing levels”.

But he said the number of people involved this time are “substantially lower than before”, without putting an exact figure on it.

“Earlier this year ISS had to make a number of people redundant at Ipswich Hospital,” the spokesman said.

“The changes made at that time, and the introduction of modern cleaning techniques, enhanced the levels of service offered at the hospital.

“ISS is committed to maintaining the highest level of service throughout the hospital and works in partnership with the trust to provide a safe and clean environment for all patients, visitors and staff.

“Throughout these reviews the company has maintained the highest levels of service to the Trust, who are being kept informed of any proposed changes.“

n What do you think of these planned redundancies? Do you have concerns about the cleanliness of Ipswich Hospital? Tell us what you think. Call the newsdesk on 01473 324788 or alternatively you can send an e-mail to starnews@eveningstar.co.uk