The controversial privatisation of so-called ‘hotel services’ at Royal North Shore (RNS) Hospital has ended with NSW Health reclaiming operation of the service currently provided by ISS Health Services, reported Anna Patty in a 13 March Sydney Morning Heard (SMH) article.
‘The Health Services Union (HSU), which represents cleaning staff, said the hospital’s decision to not renew a contract signed in 2007 was an admission that privatisation of the service had failed.’
HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes went as far to say, “There is no place for profit-driven multinational corporations in our public hospitals.”
However, Dr Andrew Montague, acting chief executive of the Northern Sydney Local Health District, said the “best decision at the time” was made and the service may be put back into the hands of private operators in the future.
“I don’t think in any way it is an admission that it has failed,” Dr Montague commented. “We made a decision on an interim basis, but we will be going back out to the market to see if we can get better value for money.”
Dr Montague sent a memo to staff last week saying cleaning, patient catering and linen services “will transition to HealthShare NSW”, which is part of NSW Health, on 28 April 2016.
‘NSW Health and the consortium InfraShore have agreed to work together to set a new benchmark for service delivery at the hospital,’ SMH reported.
“This joint initiative will support the ongoing provision of optimum patient care and maximise the benefits of public and privately provided hospital soft services,” the memo said.
Northern Sydney Local Health District, HealthShare NSW and InfraShore have teamed to manage the transition of the soft services as their operation is returned to the public sector.
The memo said the vast majority of staff “will see no visible change to the current provision of these services as we go through the transition period and it will be very much business as usual”.
But HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the proof is in the pudding and NSW Health’s decision to return the cleaning, catering and support services at RNS Hospital to public hands “is a clear admission that the privatisation of essential health services simply doesn’t work”.
“The experiment has failed,” he said.