Multimillion pound refresh of St Richard’s Hospital laundry

Monday January 25, 2021

A multi-million pound refresh of the laundry and linen department at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester will boost productivity, create 25 new jobs and reduce carbon emissions.

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is investing £5.9 million over three years to replace all the equipment, improve efficiency and provide new capacity for the laundry to serve greater demand and potentially more hospitals or other local businesses.

“Our laundry team washes more than four million items per year and we’re really pleased to move forward with this significant investment to replace and improve all the equipment,” said director of Estates and Facilities at Western Sussex Hospitals (WSHT) David McLaughlin.

THE ST RICHARD’S LAUNDRY DEPARTMENT PICTURED IN 1950

“A hospital laundry has operated from Broyle Road in Chichester since before the NHS was founded and, although our equipment is not that old, much of it has now become outdated and inefficient as washing technology has evolved.

“For example, cleaning nearly 90,000 bed sheets, scrubs and other items every week produces more than 800 tonnes of C02 a year – that’s around 13% of the entire hospital’s carbon footprint! And given our prominent position in the community, we take our environmental responsibility very seriously and are committed to doing all we can to reduce our impact.”

We promised we would continue to invest in our services and our people

Four options were considered to improve the laundry and linen service, including outsourcing it to a more efficient, larger-scale commercial operator. WSHT, however, is planning on becoming a larger trust in April by merging with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUH), providing hospital decision-makers with a new perspective as they plan for the future.

Chief finance officer, Karen Geoghegan, said: “When we proposed the merger of our two trusts we promised we would continue to invest in our services and our people, and the expansion and improvement of our laundry service is exactly the type of development we had in mind.

“It’s better for our patients, better for our staff, better for our finances and better for the environment too. For instance, we believe we can more than double the amount of laundry we do and at the same time reduce carbon emissions by at least 18%. We will also be sourcing the majority of our water from a local borehole.”

The importance of infection control, retaining control over quality and ensuring the safety and welfare of patients and staff were also critical considerations in determining the future of the laundry service.

The laundry investment programme follows another multi-million pound improvement project to develop a new specialist kitchen at St Richard’s and launch a new patient catering service across the trust that has since won national recognition from celebrity chef Prue Leith and the government’s health secretary, Matt Hancock MP.

WSHT and BSUH are proposing to merge from 1 April 2021. The two trusts have been working in partnership with a shared leadership team for nearly four years, during which time WSHT became the first acute hospital trust to be awarded Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) in all key inspection areas. At the same time, BSUH, with hospitals in Haywards Heath and Brighton, became the fastest improving acute hospital trust in England and is now rated Good overall and Outstanding for caring by the CQC.

For more information, please visit www.westernsussexhospitals.nhs.uk/merger.

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