A HOSPITAL trust has refuted claims patient safety is at risk amid strike action by some of its staff. 

In a letter to Dr Max McLean, chair of the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Councillor Richard Dunbar (Lab, Thornton and Allerton), has raised a number of concerns.

He says he has been given photographs which show a number of issues around clinical waste, including backlogs, overfilled bags with human waste and clinical waste being left “festering in the sun”.

Cllr Dunbar says he has also heard reports of staff going off sick with stress and reports of staff made to cover the strike without adequate training or safety equipment; staff of senior pay grades being paid £30 per hour to clean toilets; operating theatres not being scrubbed, only mopped; untrained staff using mops for toilets to clean on wards and the use of private security staff untrained in patient restraint or Trust fire procedures. 

Staff who work in the estates, facilities and clinical engineering engineering departments at the Trust, which includes the Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) and St Luke’s Hospital, have been embroiled in a series of strikes since last month and from August 26, will take indefinite action.

It’s over the transfer of some staff, including porters, domestic and security staff, into a new, wholly-owned subsidiary company called Bradford Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd. Staff and Unison fear the move will strip these workers of the protections they have as NHS employees, prompting them to step up their fight against the plan.

In response to Cllr Dunbar’s letter, John Holden, Acting Chief Executive of the Trust, said: “At all times our number one priority is to make sure that we provide safe and effective care to our patients and that’s what we are continuing to do.

"We completely refute claims that patient safety is being compromised in our hospitals. Waste bins and bags that are waiting to be collected from their appropriate holding areas are part and parcel of daily life on a large and very busy hospital site – they do not represent a patient safety risk. 

“All waste removal is monitored and any concerns are addressed once they are raised. This is normal operational business. All waste rooms are cleared at least once a day, every day, and this continued during the industrial action.

“The recent action has been challenging but we deal with emergencies every day and our job is always the same: to keep patients safe. A number of our own staff continued to work during this period and we also had specialist teams of security and cleaning staff on site. 

“Our team of infection control nurses had oversight of cleaning procedures to maintain safe standards. 

“We don’t accept unsubstantiated claims about staff being bullied. We have had tremendous support from many members of staff who volunteered, and were trained appropriately, to help in whatever way they could during the industrial action.”