Health authority’s privatization consultant linked to filthy U.K. hospitals

News release

HEU demands that Sodexho be fired

The Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) says it’s alarmed to find that the foreign multinational firm Sodexho hired last week by B.C.’s Northern Health Authority to revamp delivery of hospital support services is at the center of a mounting controversy about shoddy cleaning standards at hospitals in Glasgow, Scotland in which patients have died and hundreds more stricken with a viral infection.

“These published reports of Sodexho’s dirty track record are shocking and disgraceful,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt. “They should be fired immediately.”

According to published media reports, a special inspection team at Glasgow’s largest hospital where cleaning services are contracted to Sodexho found “filthy conditions throughout areas used by staff and patients.” A special Glasgow Evening Times exposé found horrid cleanliness standards including:

  • soiled bags, used operating room supplies and normal hospital waste stacked with linen bundles at the hospital’s ambulance bay;
  • bloody clothing and scrubs found in the lift used to transport patient meals;
  • a cleaner in a ward hit by two superbug outbreaks is “told to serve patient meals after mopping toilets.”

And based on the Campbell government’s secret privatization plans to sack 28,000 health care workers through privatization—which HEU released earlier this week—Allnutt warns that “it’s a concrete example of what could happen here if Victoria is allowed to contract out key support services.”

Even Scottish hospital administrators have acknowledged that low staffing levels and low pay that are the hallmark of private contractors like Sodexho contributed to the cleaning crisis. A number of the affected hospitals are moving to bring housekeeping services back in-house, increase pay, and improve working conditions for cleaners.

Based on the Scottish scandal, Allnutt says his union is renewing its call for a moratorium on health care privatization pending an independent public inquiry.

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-456-7039 (direct) or 604-828-6771 (cell)