Laundry under review at Fife hospital

A national review of NHS laundries could see Fife lose out to neighbouring cities - despite Kirkcaldy's unit being the best in the country.

Thursday, 26th May 2016, 1:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th May 2016, 2:42 pm
The laundry is located at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy. Pic by FPA -

That was the warning given by an experienced former NHS Fife board member who fears a Health Facilities review could see the laundry service axed at Victoria Hospital if centralisation goes ahead.

He said: “They’ve looked at this before but we managed to fend them off.

“Obviously they’ve got it back in their sights again.”

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The Press understands NHS Fife has invested more than £1 million developing its laundry service in Kirkcaldy in recent years.

That investment resulted in Kirkcaldy (which serves Fife and Forth Valley hospitals) becoming the most cost-effective NHS laundry unit in Scotland; a reputation which saved it from closure during a previous review.

The facility employs 43 people and NHS Fife stressed today (Thursday) that jobs are not under threat.

Andrew Fairgrieve, NHS Fife’s director of estates, facilities and capital service said: “Health Facilities Scotland is working alongside Health Boards on a review of NHS laundry facilities across Scotland, which is still ongoing.

“This review is in the early stages and is one of several under the umbrella of the Shared Services agenda, which looks to ensure value for money through provision of services across Boards on a shared basis.”

According to latest statistics, Fife processes 178 pieces of laundry an hour at a cost per item of 18 pence.

In comparison Lothian processes 88 pieces per hour at a cost of 29 pence per item.

Sickness absence rates in Fife are “practically zero”, according to sources.

The former board member commented: “It would be an absolute tragedy if, as part of a bigger plan to make other laundries more efficient by increasing their workloads, jobs were lost in Kirkcaldy; jobs which are of scarcity value at the moment,” he continued.

“Staff might be offered jobs elsewhere but if they offer them Dundee or Edinburgh how many are likely to take them?”

He added: “It doesn’t make sense to close a really efficient laundry to make somewhere else appear to be efficient.”