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Patient safety fears over instrument sterilisation moving 40 miles away

Patient safety in north east London could be compromised if the sterilisation of operating theatre instruments are moved nearly 40 miles away to Maidstone in Kent, Unite, the country’s largest union, has warned.

About 60 jobs at the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust are under threat, if the long-standing provider Steris fails in its appeal this week against losing the contract to IHSS which would relocate the service to Maidstone. 

Unite, which represents the drivers, production managers, supervisors and technicians at the sterilisation unit based at Ilford’s King George Hospital, is calling for the trust bosses to keep the service on site to protect patients and safeguard local jobs. 

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “This move will put patients’ lives at risk by sending vital instruments to a location, Maidstone, that is too far away. The route is troubled every day by major delays at the Dartford crossing and around the notorious M25. 

“Staff handed in a petition of 200 names of hospital workers and theatre clinicians who object to the move. The vast majority of staff are local and won’t be able to relocate to Maidstone. 

“Most are also long-standing staff who were transferred out of the NHS – their jobs are under threat as no guarantee of future employment has been given. 

“We are calling on the public to protest by writing to the trust’s CEO Matthew Hopkins and local MPs in a bid to reverse this flawed proposal which is motivated by relentless cost-cutting.  

“Currently, Steris does eight deliveries a day to Queen’s Hospital in Romford and five a day to King George. The decision to award the tender is clearly based on cost saving, but doesn’t account for the fact that currently staff are available 24/7 at short notice. 

“We understand that the announcement on the appeal will be made within the next week.” 

Mike Gapes MP (Labour, Ilford South) 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.”

To sign the petition on this issue please visit: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/takeaction/277/820/882/

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