Security fears at Queen’s Hospital

HOSPITAL security workers are claiming patient and staff safety is going to be put at risk following an announcement of plans to cut the security workforce by half.

The Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospital Trust employees who are managed by a company called Sodexo received letters detailing changes to shift patterns and a reduction in the number of security officers working at any one time.

The decision comes just a week after the security team won a Silver Fox Award for best practice and diligence.

One of the security officers, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We’re very pushed at the moment covering what we do. Now they want to cut us by half and get us to go from eight hour to 12-hour shifts. The shifts don’t bother us, it’s the cutting of staff.

“It wasn’t that long ago someone was kidnapped in the hospital car park. It doesn’t make any sense.”

He said the proposal was to cut the 18 security guards and five supervisors down to nine guards and three supervisors, meaning each team managed by a supervisor would be cut by one guard from four to three, and the porters, whose job it is to transfer patients around the hospital, would assist with security roles.

They’re job includes managing the control room which shows panic alarms for all of the wards, responding to situations where patients or visitors are aggressive or confused – which they said happens “at least once a day”, signing in and out keys to secure areas, escorting people out of the hospital or to their cars, guarding the air ambulance and assisting the police when patients from stabbings or serious incidents have been brought in.

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A second security officer said: “In our work guidelines it stipulates we have to have a minimum of three security officers on guard whenever the air ambulance arrives, to stop people from entering the area and we have to have a minimum of three guards when restraining anyone who needs to be escorted off the premises.

“Every security officer has to be Security Industry Authority (SIA) trained and we have to wear stab vests as part of our uniform. The porters don’t have either.”

He said doctors, nurses, consultants, patients and other hospital staff had been signing a petition which was circulating the hospital and so far has around 300 signatures.

A spokesman for Sodexo, the management company proposing the changes, said: “We are working to deliver more efficient and cost effective services. Staff consultations are currently taking place within helpdesk and security services and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage. Where possible, staff will be redeployed to alternative roles.”

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “The Trust would only support changes which we are confident will be in patients’ best interests, and will provide the same high standards or safety and security.“