Fraser Health Authority prepares to contract out OR, special care nursery cleaning

News release

The Hospital Employees’ Union is sounding the alarm over a plan by the Fraser Health Authority to turn over the cleaning of special care nurseries and operating rooms to low wage private contractors.

The FHA took a first step yesterday towards privatizing 750 housekeeping jobs at health care facilities from Boston Bar to White Rock by issuing a casting call to corporations keen to cash in on lucrative contracts.

“This is another sign that Gordon Campbell’s health care agenda is out of control and that the Premier is rolling the dice when it comes to patient care,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “The very idea that our operating rooms and special care nurseries can be cleaned by private companies paying fast food wages is frightening.”

Government claims that cost savings are possible by contracting out critical support services like housekeeping are a false economy, adds Allnutt. “The critical task of cleaning and disinfecting in health care settings where superbug outbreaks can put patients’ lives at risk can not be left to a low-wage workforce where high rates of turnover are inevitable,” says Allnutt.

A recent U.S. study says that declining housekeeping standards caused by low wages, heavy workloads and high turnover is a major contributor to the unnecessary deaths of 100,000 patients from hospital- acquired infections.

“It’s astounding that this health authority and the Campbell Liberals are prepared to disregard the experience elsewhere,” says Allnutt. “It’s a reckless choice that puts patients at risk.”

HEU is calling for an immediate moratorium on the privatization of health services and wants an independent investigation into the impact of these policies on patient health and safety.

The deadline for corporations wanting to be on the FHA’s shortlist of qualified contractors is October 30. Details are available at the FHA’s web site.

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Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-828-6771 (cell)