Birmingham’s largest hospital trust has launched an investigation into its private porter services after dead bodies were left for hours on wards.
Heart of England Foundation Trust, one of a few NHS trusts to hire a private firm for porters and cleaners, is probing Initial Hospital Services as its contract is due to be renewed this year.
It was revealed in March that patients were forced to put up with three dead bodies being left unmoved for up to eight hours on a busy ward at Heartlands Hospital, in Bordesley Green.
Lisa Dunn, Heartlands director, said: “There is an investigation into Initial on specific allegations of portering services.
“We are looking into claims there is not enough training, staffing levels, procedures of what staff are being asked to do and issues of dead bodies being left for long periods on wards.
“The contract is under review this year and a decision will be made by the end of the year.”
Lung patient Sarah Stevenson, from Small Heath, described in March the “horrendous stench” she was forced to endure on Ward 9 at Heartlands after three patients died on the same day and they were not removed for hours.
Whistleblower David Whitsey, a porter at the hospital for nine years, also spoke out claiming there was a lack of training and staff on the ground, which meant there were not enough porters to move deceased patients to the mortuary.
He claimed lack of training led to the body of patient Dora Parker, aged 81, from Kitts Green, being dropped while lifted on to a trolley shortly after she died in 2003, causing a gash on her head to the shock of daughter-in-law Patricia Parker.
Judith Thompson, spokeswoman for Initial Hospital Services, said: “We fully support this investigation and will welcome its findings.
“In the meantime, however, we are continuing to focus on delivering high standards of service at Heartlands Hospital as we have done for the past seven years.”
Union chiefs at Unison are putting pressure on the NHS trust to bring porters and cleaners back inhouse to the NHS, like most other hospitals nationwide.