PATIENTS’ lives could be at risk in London hospitals if a sterilisation unit currently based in the capital is transferred 40 miles away to Kent, union Unite warned yesterday.
The union claims that the move would put vital theatre operation equipment dangerously far away from where it is needed.
The contract with Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust was held by firm Steris, who sterilise the equipment at King George Hospital in south London.
But the trust has awarded it to competitor IHSS, which plans to transfer the work to a site at Maidstone.
Steris has launched an appeal, but if the trust stands by its decision 60 jobs at the hospital site will be under threat.
Unite, which represents workers at the sterilisation unit, is calling for trust bosses to keep the service on site to protect patients and safeguard local jobs.
Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “This move will put patients’ lives at risk by sending vital instruments to a location, Maidstone, that is too far away.
“The route is troubled every day by major delays at the Dartford crossing and around the notorious M25.”
Ms Hydon said that a petition against the move has attracted 200 signatures from hospital workers and theatre clinicians, adding that the majority of staff live in the local area and would not be able to relocate to Maidstone.
She urged the public to write to the trust’s CEO Matthew Hopkins and local MPs in a bid to “reverse this flawed proposal which is motivated by relentless cost-cutting.”
Health workers will stage a protest when trust executives meet at King George’s Hospital tomorrow from 11.30am.