Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1



  Our first example demonstrates that staff are treated fairly and consistently even under the current TUPE guidelines if all parties work together in harmony. WS Atkins transferred 80 estates staff from South Manchester University Hospital Trust in April 1999. The employees comprised various groups including tradespersons, helpdesk operators, managers and administrative grades. Communication with staff commenced some two and half years before transfer when the WS Atkins Management Team was invited to join the Trusts JNC. From those early stages, all employment issues were discussed openly and areas of concern were addressed effectively. A sub group was formed to deal specifically with transfer issues, with information regularly fed back to the main JNC. The recognised unions were UNISON, UCATT and AEEU and representatives were drawn from local, area and national level.

  One of the most positive outcomes was the production of a Staff Transfer Agreement. This document outlined the transfer process and contained numerous undertakings regarding the approach to staff and employment issues. As a "Statement of Intent" signed by the Trust, the company and trade unions it confirmed to the transferring employees that those issues which concerned them would be dealt with in an honest and professional manner. The document also served to underpin the transferring Recognition Agreement which would continue to be effective into the future. On later PFIs the AEEU publicised the Staff Transfer Agreement from South Manchester as a "best practice" document for future transfers.

  WS Atkins are now into their third year of service delivery and continue to consult and negotiate with the trade unions on all matters affecting employees. Regular Joint Working Party meetings deal with issues from operational to strategic and include senior management from the company and shop stewards and area officials from the staff side. Terms and conditions of employment for new employees have been agreed with the unions and for transferred staff new allowances have been introduced (eg Authorised Person) at no detriment to other terms and conditions. Staff development has been a key focus issue and the transferred employees have received training in a number of areas including; Health and Safety, Change Management, Customer Care, Technical and Attitudinal Development. The local and area trade union representatives have excellent relationships with the company's management team and whilst at times there may be healthy debate there has always been meaningful consultation and negotiation.


  The new University Hospital of North Durham opened on 2 April 2001 replacing the Dryburn Hospital, which shared the same site. It was funded, designed and constructed as a first wave, 27-year PFI project operated by Consort Healthcare (Durham) Ltd; a concession with joint shareholding between Balfour Beatty and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Services are provided by Haden Building Management (HBML), part of the Balfour Beatty Group.

  The majority of the almost 200 staff employed by HBML were transferred from the Trust as part of a TUPE arrangement. Much effort was invested into the preparation for the transfer and this was rewarded with a virtually seamless change from NHS to private sector. Indeed many staff have recognised the benefit of sitting within the core business of their employer and prefer the current arrangement.

  As a first wave PFI, Durham benefits from having both hard and soft services provided via the concession. This gives the service provider the opportunity to exercise a more flexible management approach to wider delivery of FM services. Issues such as controls assurance can be more easily identified, as the responsibilities are generally much clearer. This is despite the fact that the North Durham Trust retains some soft FM services in house. As a patient focussed care organisation, the Trust has ward cleaning and some portering duties incorporated as part of the ward based team. This concept can give rise to ambiguity and the Haden team are frequently called upon to assist the ward teams in their role. This they are able to do from the range of labour and skills within their workforce.

  The most significant change to the soft FM services in particular has been the move towards a more flexible delivery of services, albeit strictly measured to demonstrate compliance to over 500 key performance indicators (KPIs). Staff are focussed towards the achievement of KPIs but encouraged to interact with the service users to ensure service delivery goes beyond the rhetoric of a contract. Investment into helpful technologies (for example specialised hospital-compatible radios for porters) increases the efficiency of the work force. Clear worksheets for domestics have helped maintain the hospital facilities in pristine conditions of cleanliness. A robust regime of training for Security Guards allied to an employment structure not typical in this industry ensures a good level of security support commensurate to the special requirements for working within hospital environment.

  Last but not least, the ultimate change in service that occurred in conjunction with the new hospital was the move away from a conventional patient catering system to a cook freeze system. This move was not popular with everybody during the lead up to service commencement, but is now extremely popular with those who really count, the patients of North Durham.

  The Durham Team are just four months into this lengthy contract. Changes from what went before are generally evident although the on-going challenge will be ensuring that the raft of services provided continue to improve and realign as the business of the Trust changes over time.


  Glasgow Royal Infirmary is a large teaching hospital with more than 3,000 staff. Sodexho has been running the catering there for the past 10 years. After retendering and winning the contract for all the hospital's services, Sodexho is introducing new ideas and investment. Built over 200 years ago, it suffers from a common hospital catering problem—long journeys for hot food from the kitchen to the wards. As a solution, Sodexho took the production of meals out of the hospital's kitchens and into the high-quality production kitchens of Tillery Valley Foods.

  Meals are delivered twice a week from the production kitchen to the hospital's new distribution centre. The meals are drawn out of the store as they are ordered. Patients can make a daily choice via a specially designed software system, using the Trust's own computers. The present hospital kitchen facility has been converted to provide space for the necessary chiller and freezer units. The ward kitchens will also be refurbished and re-equipped with regeneration ovens and other equipment. The new system is flexible enough to cope with the expected increase in the demand by the opening of the new maternity hospital and plastic surgery and burns unit in the next few years. Before the system was finalised, Sodexho did a one-month trial on two wards. Patients were also surveyed about the acceptability of the menu and food quality. Both found widespread favour with patients and nurses.

  An equally important aim of the new arrangements was to integrate all the hospital's hotel services—catering, domestic portering, transport and security—into one management team in order to bring increased efficiency through speeding up management communication within the hospital.

  A key element in the integration is a new grading system for staff, introduced in conjunction with GMB Union, which now offers greater rewards for higher skills, encouraging people to move up the career ladder. The division won Investor in People recognition.

  Although the need for on-site cooks and chefs at the hospital has been reduced, there have been no redundancies among the 530 hotel services staff. Redeployment and retraining has led to the introduction of multi-skilled employees, capable of performing a variety of jobs. Two Sodexho trainers, dedicated to the hospital, train those staff to gain new skills and competencies, especially in the area of customer care.

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