5 March 2020

Richard Leonard has secured a commitment from the First Minister to consider the potential of a coronavirus pandemic as part of any decision over NHS laundry closures.

A business case is being made to close half of the laundries serving Scotland’s NHS hospitals, leaving mainland Scotland with just four laundries. But at First Minister’s Questions, the Scottish Labour leader called on Nicola Sturgeon to ensure Scotland’s NHS is given the necessary resources to maintain laundry services, and that councils are resourced to stop cuts to the cleaning of public buildings.

Mr Leonard said: “We have heard a business case is being made to Scottish ministers to close half of Scotland’s NHS laundries, so that only four would be left to serve the whole of mainland Scotland. We know that trade unions have raised concerns about this.

“And we know that the GMB has written to the First Minister this week asking for a “moratorium on cleaning cuts” across councils. They have also called for any additional demands, and so additional costs on local councils, to be met by the Scottish Government.”

Mr Leonard called on Ms Sturgeon to “give an undertaking to ensure the necessary funding and resources are available to councils and the NHS” and “place a moratorium” on the plans to reduce the number of laundries.

Responding, the First Minister said no decision would be taken on the laundries which adversely affected the Scottish Government’s response to coronavirus.

Mr Leonard also asked Ms Sturgeon to clarify how it planned to meet its Coronavirus Action Plan commitment to “support early discharge from hospital” given the struggles faced by Scotland’s NHS to discharge patients on time.

“In the last 24 hours I have spoken to Council leaders who are concerned that our social care system does not have the resources to enable patients to be discharged on time at present,” Mr Leonard warned.
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