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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Hospital caterers’ ‘no confidence’ vote

WEST Cumberland Hospital catering staff faced with serving up microwave meals to patients have issued a vote of no confidence in their boss.

And their union – the GMB – has also registered a collective grievance with the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, which runs the hospital.

The Whitehaven News revealed two weeks ago that patients in the £90million redeveloped hospital could be served microwaved meals instead of them being cooked by the catering department. The proposal would involve having several microwaves on wards to prepare the ‘steam meals’.

It has caused anger and upset to the 40-50 catering staff because of the way in which the news came to light – by chance – in a staff meeting to discuss progress on the redevelopment.

They are also now worried about the future of their jobs and the impact it could have on patient care.

However, hospital bosses have assured them that any staff currently involved in delivering the catering service will also be involved in the future.

Kevin Young, GMB regional organiser who represents the majority of those staff members, said the way they found out was “an absolute outrage”.

“This was an inappropriate forum to mention this. The announcement should have come through the proper channels, by the right person,” said Mr Young.

“We believe this is financially driven, the Trust are trying to slash and burn to make itself financially attractive for the acquisition.

“The staff feel that they, yet again, are being treated with contempt by a management team that should have known better.”

He added: “This means they would go from a gold star catering department to switching on microwaves. It’s a devaluation of their skills.”

The vote of no confidence is in Alan Davidson, the trust’s estates director. The staff feel, as their boss, he should have told them about the proposal.

It was sent to Trust deputy chief executive, Alistair Mulvey, and states: “Our members and the GMB as their trade union therefore have no alternative but to register in the strongest terms the vote of no confidence against Mr Davidson as we hold him solely to account for the failure to communicate with our members and the GMB.

“As such we have no faith in working with Mr Davidson going forward in what will be very difficult and challenging times ahead.”

The hospital’s Unison representative, Christine Wharrier, said they were writing to the Trust Board about the matter.

“Mr Davidson appears to have his own agenda because following a meeting with the managers under him and the staff it was obvious that they weren’t even aware of the majority of the facts that Unison were aware of,” said Mrs Wharrier.

A spokeswoman for the Trust said: “The Trust will be investigating the allegations made by Mr Young on behalf on his members, following the Trust grievance procedure. The Trust intends to meet with GMB at the earliest opportunity.

“It is important to highlight that when the operational plan for catering at West Cumberland Hospital is being developed over the next two years in the run up to the opening of the new hospital, we will fully engage our staff both in developing the best way forward and ultimately delivering this important service to patients, visitors and staff. The Trust believes it is vital that our staff are involved in the process.

“How patients meals are prepared, and served in the future will change and this may involve preparing and serving food on a ward by ward basis. There has been no decision on the final catering solution, however any changes will be focused on enhancing patient experiences of which food and nutrition plays an important part.”

Have your say

I absolutely agree it is outragous that once again we see trusts turning to the microwave meals. I have every support for the catering staff at West Cumberland Hospitals. No wonder Hospital food has a bad reputation

Posted by Mike Duckett MBE FIH on 26 June 2012 at 13:46

what do the cheifs at northumbria think about all this? is this the way they want to go and is this how they will treat thier satff?

Posted by corncerned on 12 June 2012 at 13:34

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