Preston’s Guild Community Healthcare NHS Trust has revealed that it has been forced to sell its laundry, based at the Red Scar Industrial Estate, because it is not making enough money to maintain the required level of service.

Dave Tomlinson, finance director for the trust, said that the problem had been two-fold. The trust—which currently has a turnover of £1 million a year and processes 120 000 pieces a week—needs to win new contracts to make it viable, but cannot afford to invest in the equipment to allow it to take on more work.

Mr Tomlinson said: “A healthcare laundry requires specialised management—this is a high fixed cost and requires trust funding to support it. But the trust is placing more focus on capital expenditure in fire safety, health and safety and its core patient services.

“This means that there is not sufficient capital available to maintain the plant at its appropriate level or to invest in growing the business.

“In the long term there is a good opportunity here, but due to the current drain on resources we are unable to see it as an ongoing part of our portfolio.” Trevor Jones, director of operations, explained that the Guild regretted having to sell the laundry but felt it should concentrate more on patient care.

The laundry, which is owned by the Guild Trust and managed by the Midland Laundry Group, will be advertised in the first week of June. Its contracts include the Preston Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, West Cumbria NHS Trust and the Cardiothoracic Centre at Liverpool. The laundry also has contracts in the private sector with Lancaster University and the Oasis Holiday Organisation.

The conditions of sale, said Mr Tomlinson, must include the best financial deal for the Trust, guarantee the continuity of the provision of service to current operating standards, and safeguard the positions of the laundry’s employees. The Guild hopes to finalise the sale by the end of August.