School and hospital meal services hit by collapse of Carillion

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17/01/2018 - 11:09
The enforced liquidation of UK multinational facilities management and construction services company Carillion has cast a shadow over catering services in schools and hospitals.

Its catering services unit Food & More serves 32,000 meals a day to students across more than 200 schools as part of FM in Leeds, Barnsley, Redcar, Oxfordshire, Gateshead and Tameside.

In addition, Carillion was contracted to provide hard (eg. building maintenance) and soft ( and cleaning) FM services at 14 NHS Trusts.

Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) chairman Stewart McKenzie said: “We understand that Carillion’s healthcare portfolio was responsible for preparing more than 18,500 patient meals per day.

“Alongside that, buildings they were responsible for included 200 operating theatres, 300 critical care beds and just under 11,500 in-patient beds. They were also responsible for the new, under construction Royal Liverpool Hospital.

“We recognise that interruption to the level of service provided can have a significant impact on our patients, staff and visitors, therefore the HCA encourages our members or any hospital caterer that has been affected by Monday’s announcement to get in touch if they would like to discuss concerns regarding the safe and continuous delivery of hospital patient meals.”

An NHS spokesman added: “We have had staff deployed to the six biggest hospital sites to offer assistance, but the vast majority of Carillion staff have turned up to work as normal.

“All NHS sites remain open and operating as planned.

“While the NHS isn’t a particularly large customer of Carillion, we have a duty to maintain safe, high quality services for our patients. That’s why we’ve been working with trusts and with private sector providers to have extensive contingency plans in place.

“That these plans have worked well is a tribute to the tireless work by NHS staff and by staff employed by Carillion, who have put huge amounts of effort in at what is a very difficult time for them.”

Oxfordshire County Council reacted quickly, immediately making the decision to provide catering services to 90 schools in the county that had been provided by Carillion.

The council’s director for property, assets and investment Alexandra Bailey said: “We expect school staff will be in work as normal, but if this doesn’t happen we will provide school lunches to schools needing support, and the fire service are on standby to deliver them. We are confident no child will go hungry at school.”

Glenn Roberts, chairman of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) said the impact of the liquidation of Carillion could have a huge impact on the foodservice equipment community.

“We will be lobbying government and, at the earliest opportunity, we will discuss the matter with the administrator in order to try to minimise the negative effects on the supply chain.

“Given the number of high profile projects that are at various stages of completion, the operational issues relating to existing contracts, and the equipment service agreements, it is vital that the interests of CESA members are protected.

"They find themselves involved in this situation through no fault of their own, and it will be unfair if their businesses and employees are adversely affected as a result. We are tracking developments very closely.

“This is a sorry state of affairs that seems to have been caused by an overwhelming drive to reduce costs to an unsustainable level.  For example, there has been next to no input on equipment energy efficiency and lifecycle costs.” 

Carillion went into receivership at the weekend with debts of around £900m and a pension deficit of £590m, and just £29m in the bank.

The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator, and partners at consultancy PwC will act as special managers.

Carillion chairman Philip Green said: “This is a very sad day for Carillion, for our colleagues, suppliers and customers that we have been proud to serve over many years.

“In recent days however we have been unable to secure the funding to support our business plan and it is therefore with the deepest regret that we have arrived at this decision.”

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