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Inquiry to examine dirty hospitals23 March 2005
The Victorian Government has been forced to launch a state -wide investigation into privately run hospital services after patients and workers reported dirty and unsafe conditions at the Box Hill and Alfred Hospitals.
Jeff Jackson, State Secretary of the Health Services Union said that it was about time Premier Steve Bracks listened to patients and workers and investigated the appalling conditions present in some of Victoria's largest hospitals.
However, Mr Jackson said the HSU would not give full support to the investigation until the Bracks Government revealed the inquiry's terms of reference and announced the 'independent' members who would carry out the review.
"At the end of the day - the State Service Authority is run by a Steve Bracks appointed chairman - so we need to know that this inquiry is ridgy didge and truly independent," Mr Jackson said.
"I hope for the sake of all Victorians that the Bracks Government cleans up the mess they have allowed to thrive unchecked in our hospitals - the future of our public health system depends on it.
In a recent workforce survey at the Box Hill and Alfred Hospitals, staff reported faecal matter on wheelchairs, dirty birthing and postnatal rooms that had been left unclean and rats at the rear of one hospital kiosk.
Patients have also spoken out about blood stained equipment, blood and urine left in birthing wards and fears about increased risk of hospital infections.
"These horror stories have forced the Bracks Government to finally investigate the serious decline in standards which have resulted from the outsourcing of vital hospital services to private companies," Mr Jackson said.
"Handing over cleaning services to big business has resulted in massive staff cuts and an inevitable decline in standards - this has left patients and staff in dirty and dangerous hospital conditions.
Mr Jackson said that when contractors took over cleaning and food services at the Alfred and Box Hill Hospitals, they cut a massive 100 staff members and drastically reduced the hours of the remaining staff.
"You cannot dramatically slash staff numbers and expect services to continue without a serious drop in standards," Mr Jackson said.
"Substandard cleaning in our hospitals is not on - it's about time the Bracks Government got its shop in order and Minister Pike cleaned up the mess," Mr Jackson said.