Serco bring in the robots, body and soul

First they privatise hospitals and then they call for cost cutting to increase “efficiency”:

Robots, instead of human staff, would provide some essential services at WA’s new Fiona Stanley Hospital under a plan that unions warn could cost hundreds of jobs.

Serco the company the WA Government wants to provide privatised services at the hospital has already introduced the robots for day-to-day tasks in a hospital it runs in Scotland.

Thirteen “automatically guided vehicles” carry clinical waste, deliver food, clean the operating theatre and dispense drugs at Serco’s Forth Valley Royal Hospital. A Serco spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that the company was hoping to use “similar innovations” at FSH.

The company already manages Australia’s migration detention centres and some private prisons.

Health Services Union secretary Dan Hill said the robots could cost hundreds of jobs.

“The public expects to be cared for by a team of professionals, not treated by robots because the private operator of the hospital is trying to make as a big a profit as possible,” Mr Hill said.

The State Government recently named Serco as the preferred firm to provide privatised non-clinical services at FSH, which is due to open in 2014.

The $2 billion hospital in Murdoch will have 643 beds when it opens and has been billed as the saviour of the state’s struggling health system.

In 2006, a UK parliamentary committee found Serco was part of a consortium that milked taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars. The Commons Public Accounts Committee said the consortium, which financed and built hospitals in Norfolk and Norwich, geared up the hospital projects’ borrowing in a bid to make refinancing gains of more than $100 million.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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