News round-up: Estates and facilities management

ENERGY: Mersey trust deploys Powerstar

MERSEY Care NHS Trust has installed Powerstar in a bid to reduce energy usage and cut its carbon footprint. The voltage optimisation and energy-saving solutions from EMSc Powerstar have been deployed at a number of facilities run by the trust, including Ashworth, Mossley and Rathbone hospitals and the Scott Clinic. At Rathbone this has led to an average 18% saving on annual energy consumption, the equivalent of £6,974, while the Scott Clinic has saved around £5,446 a year. Mark O’Grady, managing director of MITIE Engineering Maintenance, the facility management company used by Mersey Care NHS trust for the Powerstar installations, said: “As the UK faces worsening power quality issues with harmonic, transient, power factor and phase balancing issues, voltage optimising is emerging as one of the most secure technologies for NHS sites to adopt as part of their sustainability strategies.” Terry Shemwell, Powerstar consultant to local authorities and the NHS, added: “The NHS has highlighted its commitment to cutting carbon emissions and meeting the Government’s targets of cutting emissions by 80% by 2050. Solutions such as Powerstar are allowing trusts to not only achieve these targets but plough back money saved into improved patient care and services.”

PARKING: Cancer patients get free parking

MID Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has announced a new parking scheme for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Working with Stafford Borough Council and Cannock Chase District Council, the trust is offering eligible patients free parking at any of the council car parks in either town centre. In the first move of its kind in the country, patients who do not qualify for a blue badge, but suffer from fatigue as a result of their treatment, will be able to apply for the scheme. Clair Turner, clinical nurse specialist for oncology, said: “We are really excited to be able to get this project off the ground as it’s going to benefit so many of our patients.” Chief executive of Stafford Borough Council, Ian Thompson, added: “We hope this will help patients carry out day-to-day activities which are made more difficult because of previously being unable to park in more suitable disabled areas in the council-run car parks.”

PARKING: Campaign against staff changes

We consider that the trust is introducing these new arrangements to raise funds towards the £20m deficit that has been run up by bad management

THE General Medical Council has launched a campaign against new staff parking arrangements at Heatherwood and Wexham Park NHS Trust. The action follows the trust's decision to enforce a new parking scheme at Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot and Wexham Park Hospital in Slough. Under the rules, staff are not allowed to park their cars on the site if they live within 3.5 miles of the hospital where they work. For those who live beyond the boundary, a charge of 1% of their salary is being imposed for a permit. The GMB is representing a number of staff members claiming the changes discriminate against the low-paid and women workers. Keith Roberts, GMB organiser said: “The GMB does not accept the basic reason put forward by the trust that the car parks are over subscribed. We consider that the trust is introducing these new arrangements to raise funds towards the £20m deficit that has been run up by bad management.”

CATERING: New facility opens at North Mid

A NEW public restaurant has opened at North Middlesex University Hospital. The £1.3m facility will give patients and visitors an opportunity to relax in comfortable surroundings, with an outside decking area and small pond. Whereas the old restaurant was housed in a portable building away from the main hospital, it will now be based on the ground floor, next to the main entrance. Kevin Howell, director of environment, said: “We’ve taken time and thought in order to design a restaurant that will enhance the experience of coming to the hospital. There are a range of food options, including hot and cold meals, made-to-order sub rolls, a salad bar, lighter bites and Costa coffee.”

HOSPITAL RADIO: Station up for six awards

RADIO Northwick Park has received six nominations out of a possible eight categories in the 2011 Hospital Broadcasting Association National Awards. This is the third time the station has been nominated for Station of the Year in the last four years and the growing number of entries comes as the station marks its 40th anniversary. Other nominations are: Best Female Presenter for Paloma Kubiak, Best Male Presenter for Ben Punter, Best Newcomer for Dan Cottrell, Specialist Music Programme for Carl Gardner’s Soundboard, and Station Promotion for the Genius Playlist Advert. The winners will be revealed later this month. The station has been broadcasting since 1971 and is run by volunteers. It is on air 24 hours a day, seven days a week both around the hospital and online.

CATERING: Notts hospital gives food for thought

NOTTINGHAM University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) has been praised for the quality of its food and efforts to source ingredients from local farms. In its new report published this week, entitled First Aid for Hospital Food, The Soil Association held up the City Hospital as an example of best practice, proving that it is possible to source fresh, local and organic food with no impact on cost. As a result, NUH has achieved the organisation’s Food for Life Bronze Catering Mark. The report states that, nationally, the association found a large disparity in the quality of hospital food served. NUH was praised for, among other things, sourcing all its milk from a local dairy just 11 miles away and buying 95% of its meat from a local processor sourcing from farmers in the East Midlands. The switch to local suppliers has saved an estimated 150,000 food miles a year and £6m in costs.

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