More minds switching onto the Serco curse

All power to this campaign:

The public’s health will be at risk if the preferred cleaning company for the new Fiona Stanley Hospital gets the $3.2 billion job, the union representing hospital workers claims.

United Voice president Dave Kelly claims services company Serco run “dirty and dangerous” hospitals which could endanger people’s health.

Serco say hospitals the company looks after are clean and healthy and rejected claims their services weren’t up to scratch.…  It labelled the union’s allegations as “mischievous”.

The union today released a report showing Serco failed to meet standads in six out of eight wards at a UK hospital last year.

“Here is an independent government assessment of Serco’s cleaning standards in UK hospitals and they’ve come up wanting,” Mr Kelly said.

“If those cleaning standards are repeated at Fiona Stanley, patients here in Western Australia will certainly see an increase in the number of superbug infections.”

But Serco spokesperson said the report referred to dust that was discovered in a hard-to-reach area.

“The comments related to some dust, fluff and grit in hard to reach areas such as behind a sluice machine,” the spokesperson said.

Of course, Serco is now facing an increasing barrage of criticism over its various work practices (and pro-privatisation governments are equally under scrutiny for falling in love with the multinational).

But such companies can always find some sympathetic journalists to spin issues their way. Enter Michael Stutchbury in Murdoch’s Australian with a nice puff story for the poor, struggling Serco:

The political Left and the public sector unions typically resist ending government monopolies. But the “progressive” approach of privately run jails may startle tough-on-crime conservatives.

The head of Serco’s London-based think-tank arm, Gary Sturgess, suggests that private prisons have been the “great success story” of contracting out. That’s partly because government jails have been so bad.

“In the English-speaking world, the public sector has not done a terrifically good job at managing prisons,” says Sturgess, who was cabinet secretary for the NSW Liberal Greiner government two decades ago. “They are not areas of best practice in public service delivery.”

But it’s also because the contained prison environment can be tightly managed by private contractors and closely monitored by governments and inspectors. The risks and costs of prisoners reoffending traditionally are borne by government. The issue is whether private providers can use financial incentives to take on some of this risk and cut through the contested social and criminological theories about what works best to reduce recidivism.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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