As members of our campaign attend many meetings, ask many questions and get many answers we thought that the answers should be publicly available. Here are the questions and answers from 5 November.
1. There are reports in the media about Carillion that are of concern: in September 2014 at their Board Meeting, Great Western Hospital recorded a lack of confidence in Carillion following a Food Standards Agency inspection that found food badly stored, out of date, and uncovered in freezers. Carillion has been in dispute with staff at the hospital over working practices since 2011. It’s also reported that there are long-standing staff complaints about bullying and racism. More than fifty staff are allegedly taking Carillion to Employment Tribunal, and it is reported that there was an investigation at a Carillion Surgicare Centre in 2013 following 3 deaths. Can the Board inform us which of the Trust’s services are run by Carillion? How many Trust staff monitor those services and how do they do this? What steps has the Board put in place to satisfy itself that Carillion is not putting patients at risk or mistreating its staff?
The Director of Strategy explained that Carillion currently provided the following services at The Royal London and Barts sites: catering, security, reception, cleaning, portering, pest control and helpdesk. They would be providing the same portfolio of services from 1 December 2014 at Whipps Cross and from 1 January 2015 at Mile End. In addition, Carillion would be providing security and reception services at Newham from 1 December 2014. The Trust had a team of six staff monitoring Soft FM services through a range of formal and informal mechanisms including ward and department visits, performance information and face-to-face liaison meetings. The Trust was not aware of any concerns to suggest that there was a problem of staff being mistreated but the opportunity would be taken to discuss the issues raised with Carillion.
2. It has been recently reported that Barts has spent nearly £1m in 10 months on its turnaround consultant. Given the number of staff who have been down-banded, how would Barts justify such costs to staff who work hard on the frontline and have seen their own pay cut? What specific outcomes were required of the consultant to justify the expenditure?
The Chief Executive explained that the Trust was tracking delivery of a £70 million cost improvement programme in the current year in addition to flow through of £19 million from 2013/14, delivering an overall improvement in financial performance of £89 million. This represented a very significant year- on-year improvement which provided the context for the turnaround expenditure described.
3. The Barts Health annual accounts for 2013/14 show a £20.5m spend on consultants. What were these costs for? Which organisations have provided consultants? What specific outcomes were required to justify the expenditure?
The Chief Financial Officer explained that consultancy costs in the annual accounts included a range of expenditure on management consultancy, project management, legal and procurement advice, business case support, etc. The Trust had engaged with over 300 firms in the previous year, the largest being PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as part of the turnaround programme. Monthly expenditure information was available on the Trust website.