research-report-96-coming-clean-contractual-and-procurement-practices.doc

Renewal of the contract in 2011 12 involved a

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Renewal of the contract in 2011-12 involved a respecification of what level of cleaning activities were required. What is interesting in this case is that the strategic framework for identifying the different demands for cleaning across the hospital environment and the associated performance monitoring requirements are identified and regularly updated by the client, as part of the wider NHS organisation. Thus, in preparation for the renewal of the contract in 2011-12, CleanC followed the NHS risk assessment guidelines and restructured all cleaning tasks into four bands of activity - very high risk areas, high risk, significant risk and low risk – with appropriate recommendations of frequency of cleaning and performance monitoring (NHS, 2007). In practice, this exercise was in fact undertaken jointly with experts from the client’s Infection Control Unit. The senior CleanC Contract director emphasised the local discretionary power of this Unit (regarding frequency of cleaning as well as choice of cleaning products), which he felt hindered the implementation of a standardised CleanC approach across different hospital sites - ‘We have to adapt [our standardised procedures]. The local rules take precedence’. Overall, the respecification of cleaning tasks led to a reduction in frequency of cleaning of low- 63
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COMING CLEAN: CONTRACTUAL AND PROCUREMENT PRACTICES risk office space and public corridors to meet client cost considerations, but has been met with poor results in user surveys. We did reduce our costs to the client but we also reduced our specification. ... I suppose from a procurement perspective our clients got what they wanted. They were given the figure that they wanted but you have a whole bunch of users that go, “How come my office only gets cleaned once a week now? CleanC are rubbish”. (CleanC Contract director). Client power in performance management in this case is potentially assisted by the high political and public profile of hygiene standards in NHS hospitals, as well as the scrutiny of overall performance of PFI contracts. 9.3 HR practices and employment conditions This is a very interesting case because it involves various strong pressures emanating from the client on working conditions of the outsourced cleaning workforce. These include the strong influence of industrial relations traditions firmly established at the client organisation (as part of the National Health Service) and NHS investment in improving the specification of cleaning activities in hospital sites and good practice contract performance monitoring. However, the case also includes evidence of employer practices to evade institutionalised rules through the use of temporary agency workers. Employment contracts CleanC cleaning staff are employed on the same terms and conditions as NHS employees thanks to the Two Tier Code (see above). HospitalE and CleanC agreed to these conditions around 2008 through negotiations with trade unions (HospitalE, Contract manager). Therefore, all conditions agreed in the NHS sector agreement
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