Steam builds over threat to RVS coffee

VOLUNTEERS from the RVS will have to compete with high street brands like Costa Coffee to keep their outlets at two hospitals.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust is putting retail catering outlets including two kiosks run by the RVS, formerly the WRVS, at Scunthorpe hospital and a coffee shop at Goole, out to tender.

The trust says they need to maximise income and attract capital investment to refurbish facilities, but Goole councillor Keith Moore said it was a disgrace.

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Coun Moore said the volunteers did more than just provide coffee, taking books to patients, adding: “The RVS has served our local hospital well over the years.

“They are obviously concerned and appalled after all the years service they have given.

“To even consider replacing them with the likes of Starbucks or Costa is beyond belief and it appears in the Coalition’s reorganisation of our once great NHS profit is the only motivating force.”

A report to the councillor of governors this week admits the tender exercise is “politically sensitive”, but says the RVS occupies “prime retail sites.”

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Costa, Starbucks and Subway are all named as the high street brands they’d like to attract.

In-house staff restaurants and coffee shops will also go out to tender.

It said: “The part played by the RVS has a long history and is viewed positively by staff, patients and the public.

“However the areas occupied by the RVS are prime retail sites and have the capability of offering the trust substantially more income than through the current arrangements.”

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Executive director of facilities Nigel Myhill said: “The trust is currently developing other options for tendering its catering services within staff/visitor restaurants and trust-run coffee shops.

“We hope to attract capital investment to refurbish our existing facilities and to create new ones.

“Similar tenders at other trusts have resulted in them providing enhanced catering facilities for staff and visitors.

“We expect to compete the tendering process by March.”

A trust spokeswoman said they were looking at every option - and were not saying there could only be one supplier.