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Outsourced workers care too, says Medirest's Steve Cenci

7th Sep 2020 - 09:54
Steve Cenci compass healthcare
compass medirest healthcare
Steve Cenci, healthcare managing director with Compass Group UK & Ireland, explains how outsourced key workers have supported the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

As we move away from the initial peak of the coronavirus crisis, we have had an opportunity to look back at what our teams have achieved over the last few months.

I have worked in the Compass Healthcare sector Medirest for coming up to 20 years and I have never felt prouder of our people and what we’re doing to support the NHS, private health and our senior care clients. Across our business there are some incredibly courageous things happening.

We employ approximately 7,500 people in Compass Healthcare, working in 20 NHS Trusts across the country, providing a range of vital support services including catering, cleaning, portering and security.

This pandemic has highlighted the importance of these roles, which often operate behind the scenes. It’s been great to see that a spotlight has now been shone on all of the teams who have been helping in the fight against coronavirus.

We have seen a shift to well-deserved recognition for people in these much-needed positions. From the public Clap for Carers, to thanks from patients, clients, name checks from MPs in parliament and interest and thanks from the media.

It’s been tough, but our people have pulled together to adapt at speed and with amazing spirit, so it’s wonderful to see them rightly recognised.

Outsourcing is often seen by those who don’t work in the healthcare sector as a ‘bolt on’ activity, but this just isn’t the case. I prefer to see it as ‘insourcing expertise’, allowing our hard-pressed clinical staff to remain focused on the ‘day job’, so to speak.

Our teams have always seen themselves as part of the hospitals, Trusts or care homes in which they work. Responding to the crisis has only strengthened our partnerships and the team spirit has never been stronger.

The health and safety of our people has been central to everything we have done and our teams have taken time to understand everyone’s unique position and respond appropriately. Part of this has been supplying and training, procedures and PPE.

We have worked with others in the industry, Public Health England and our partners to collaborate and get this right. We’re sharing insights and best practice and it’s been for the better. This period has highlighted the value of good private sector partnerships, as we bring specialist knowledge and people, which frees up the hospital staff to focus on other areas of work.

An example of our specialists is national domestic manager, Anna Hallas. She has been instrumental during this time, bringing her expertise and sharing it across the NHS.

Her role is to develop standard operating procedures in line with the cleaning requirements of hospitals and assess what’s needed to deliver it, such as new technology and products, and importantly advise on safe and effective implementation.

Over the past few months, people have seen how important cleaning is in reducing the spread of illness and infection and Anna is in a unique position, working collaboratively to support the development of new cleaning standards.

Our dietitian Maxine Cartz, who is also the chair of The Food Services Specialist Group of the British Dietetic Association, works across all our NHS hospitals as an expert interface between dietitians and our catering teams on the ground.

She offers all important technical support and consultancy to catering managers on anything related to patient dining and provision of special diets. She has worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic, to ensure the supply chain had alternatives if they were needed due to potential shortages, but also to continue helping patients with a variety of illnesses making sure their needs are being catered for.

During this time, we have striven to offer our people the support they have needed. We began by introducing a six-week bonus for front line staff and managers, provided thousands of essential food boxes for staff, plus Easter Eggs and treat boxes.

Most importantly, we have provided a pay increase to healthcare frontline employees, who support the NHS, to ensure they are paid the equivalent of NHS Agenda for Change basic rates of pay going forward.

In addition, we’ve provided access to extra financial assistance, as well as emotional and mental health support, through welfare calls and resources to help wellbeing.

With all this in mind, we are now reflecting on some of the extraordinary stories of the dedication of our people and have launched our Healthcare Heroes campaign, to recognise and share just some of the exceptional hard work we’ve witnessed.

We have been sharing these stories with the public, to celebrate the commitment of our teams and will be announcing awards for them later this year.

We all know challenges remain, but what is evident is that our people are pulling together to support hospitals and patients and our commitment to helping save lives will not falter.


Written by
David Foad