Ipswich: Job losses fear at hospital

IPSWICH: Residents today launched a scathing attack on a cleaning and catering contractor by branding plans to cut staff at Ipswich Hospital as “disgusting”.

Whistleblowers came forward to voice their concerns after it emerged that ISS, the contractor behind the Heath Road hospital’s cleaning team, was looking to alter the way its services were delivered.

Since taking over the contract at Ipswich Hospital on October 1 last year, ISS has invested in modern technology and, as a result, has started a consultation period to review current staffing levels.

One concerned resident, who has worked at the hospital for more than 20 years, but asked not to be named, claimed staff had heard at least 27 jobs would be lost across the two departments.

They said: “There has been talk of cuts for a while, but we have recently been told that more than 27 jobs could go. This could include part of the infection control team being disbanded.

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“I think it is disgusting because it is clearly something that will affect patients – the quality of service will not be what it currently is.”

It is understood that some members of staff have been approached in relation to being paid two weeks’ redundancy money – however, this could not be confirmed.

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Another Suffolk resident voiced their “grave concerns” over the potential reorganisation, with particular fears for the oncology department.

They said: “They [staff in the cleaning department] provide cleaning services for both the radiotherapy and chemotherapy sides of oncology and keep the place clean to a very high standard. However, I believe ISS are proposing to reduce the number of staff to one.

“This means that for the majority of the working day the departments will have no cleaning cover and it could lead to an increase in hospital-acquired infections.”

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said she understood the consultation could lead to the removal of a number of jobs.

She said: “We will ensure that the NHS cleaning standards will be met. We do believe that the consultation through ISS does include the removal of a number of jobs.

“From our point of view, we will be ensuring that our patients receive the highest priority of care and that services meet our own quality standards. It will be monitored.”

A spokesman for ISS said: “We have significantly invested in modern technology for cleaning and catering at the hospital and the upshot of this is that we are now coming into this consultation period. From there, we can establish what the ongoing requirements will be.

“Because we are conscious that it is an unsettling period for our staff, we have been open with what is happening.

“We are trying to establish the opportunities and there are no guarantees that redundancies will be made.

“But we are looking to alter some of how the services can be delivered with the modern equipment on offer.”

n Are you being made redundant? Do you know details of the ISS shake-up? Call The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

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