LETTER: Hospital’s commercial tender is insult to volunteers

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What on earth is the management of St Richard’s Hospital up to, putting out to commercial tender the ‘retail catering’ activities provided by The Friends of St Richard’s and others for staff, patients and visitors at the hospital?

Seemingly this is part of a healthy eating drive, although you will search in vain among the hundreds of pages of tender documents on the Gov.UK website to find what management means by ‘retail catering’.

You might think that the WRVS café in the hospital, which prepares drinks and snacks for staff and visitors, would certainly be carrying out ‘retail catering’ activities.

But no, its café is expressly excluded from the tender process for no stated reason; probably the WRVS is much too big for management to take on.

But the Friends of St Richard’s, that splendid little charity that buys hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of equipment for the hospital every year, runs a wonderful shop that prepares no food at all. Yet it is now required to tender for the privilege of continuing to do what it has been doing so well for many, many years, earning huge praise from staff, patients and visitors for the popular range of goods it sells, its cheerful staff and its uplifting seven-days a week presence and twice a day trolley round in the wards.

Inexplicable and hugely insulting to the considerable number of volunteers, fundraisers and donors who do so much for the hospital.

Shame on you St Richard’s. And how on earth does the management of the hospital have time for such a ridiculous diversion?

And in case you might think that at least the healthy eating initiative might extend to the hospital food so vital to a speedy recovery for patients – no, according to the tender documentation, the hospital’s own catering services are not part of the healthy eating initiative and are not being put out to tender. Of course they’re not.

Robin Coghlan

School Lane

Emsworth