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Sterile services shake-up will damage environment, say unions

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Proposals to transport surgical instruments across the south west of England to decontamination supercentres have been described as ‘environmental madness’ by unions.

Unison, Unite and the RCN have condemned the proposals to close on-site decontamination centres at hospitals and replace them with privatised remote facilities.

They have estimated that the centres will create an extra 10m road miles because of the trucks ferrying the equipment backwards and forwards between hospitals in Somerset, Dorset and North Devon.

Unison regional organiser Graham Parish said: ‘We have calculated from the business case that there will be an extra 66 van journeys every day to transport equipment all over this large rural area.

‘This would lead to an extra 10 million miles travelled over the 20 years of the contract, using over 300,000 gallons of diesel.

‘We believe this is totally irresponsible. Not only because of the environmental impact of carbon emission on all these extra journeys – it will also increase the risk of accidents and traffic congestion.’

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