03 February 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has decided to halt the process to re-tender its contract for hotel services with external providers and take the services back in-house.
The trust said the move would "help ensure our hotel services staff are able to play their full and fair role within our care teams and enable us to improve service quality collaboratively".
The current contract expires at the end of March, so the trust will manage services directly from 1 April 2020, when improvements to terms and conditions will also take effect.
All porters, cleaners and catering staff at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are to receive NHS basic pay rates and sick leave and have access to the NHS pension scheme following a review of options for the future management of 'hotel services' across the trust's five hospitals.
As part of the review of options - and drawing on the experiences of other NHS trusts and discussions with its staff and trade union partners - the trust has concluded that there is a case "for making the direct management of hotel services a permanent move".
It admitted that the costs, benefits and risks are "not yet sufficiently understood" but added that "running the services in-house will enable us to make that judgement in full knowledge of the implications and opportunities. Therefore, we will undertake an evaluation after one year in order to decide whether to continue to employ hotel services staff directly - and bring all staff up to full NHS (Agenda for Change) terms and conditions - or re-tender the contract with a significantly amended specification".
Imperial College Healthcare chief executive Professor Tim Orchard said: "We went into the hotel services contract re-tendering process knowing we wanted significant improvements in quality and for our cleaners, porters and catering staff to feel properly valued and part of our wider team. We thought we could achieve that through a new contract but it became apparent that our amended specification was not enough. We have looked at different models for managing hotel services, all with successful examples. We now have an opportunity to make a real step change - for our patients and our staff - that best suits our circumstances.
"These changes will create additional cost pressures next year but we are confident that there are also benefits to unlock, arising from better team working, more coordinated planning and improved quality. The pace of change will be challenging, but I am confident we will achieve our first test of better team working to meet the 1 April 2020 timescale. To help us manage the transition, we have appointed Retearn, a specialist company with a strong track-record in supporting organisations temporarily to 'insource' as well as 'outsource' facilities management."
The trust will now consult its staff and trade union partners on transferring about 1,000 hotel services staff to its employment from Sodexo, the current holder of its hotel services contract, under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)) Regulations.