Setting out the stand for linen procurement in the NHS

5 September 2018

The Society of Hospital Linen Services and Laundry Managers (SHLSLM) forum and exhibition was an opportunity for hospital laundry professionals to learn from one another and catch up on recent developments. Kathy Bowry was there

The Society of Hospital Linen Services and Laundry Managers (SHLSLM) forum got underway (2-3 May) at Tankersley Manor Hotel, Barnsley. The two-day forum followed a day of training designed for supervisors and managers wishing to develop their careers within linen services.

After a welcome by Society president John Gallagher, Ian Hargreaves, Laundry Solutions, chair and treasurer, SHLSM, addressed the subject of ‘Procurement and Linen Services’.

He asked whether the NHS has learned anything from previous tenders; what are the main issues with tendering; and, are specifications written in an unbiased manner? To the first point he answered is own question saying that “yes, trusts have learned lessons, but aren’t sharing them”. He added that specification can be a lengthy and frustrating process but admitted that using frameworks can help cut the time involved. He also said: “Specifications have to be fair (to both parties); standards achievable; and, the contract needs to offer value for money.”

Paul Ralston’s? paper, ‘Procurement and Linen Services - What do you need to know?’, cleared up some procurement questions but raised others. Paul Ralston MCIPS is head of procurement for Rotherham and procurement lead Working Together Partnership Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, Regional lead in Yorkshire for the Health Care Supplies Association (HCSA), and National Stakeholder Group Regional chair of the Procurement Skills Development network for Yorkshire & Humber. As far as procurement in a cash-strapped NHS is concerned he used this analogy: “What you want and what you need are very different. I want an Aston Martin but don’t need it to get to work.” Basically, the NHS has had learn to make do and mend and will have to continue to do so.

Reg Ramsden, domestics and linen services manager, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust and national officer, SHLSM, expounded on ‘KPIs – how to make them work for the customer of a laundry contract’. He explained succinctly that a KPI is a quantifiable measure used to evaluate the success of an organisation, employee or service and whether it is meeting agreed objectives and performance. “It is an assessment that really needs to be made every day, getting data and knowing the provider is giving you what you need.

According to Ramsden to have any chance of working KPI’s must be ‘SMART’:



Achievable – (if you work with provider you can make it work)


Time phased.

Paul Crabtree, managing director, and Jim Goldthorpe, technical sales manager, MIP UK addressed delegates from the suppliers’ point of view. Their paper, ‘Procurement within Linen Services - ways in which suppliers could help the NHS’ concluded the proceedings for the first day. The presentation explored ‘Smart’ purchasing to help achieve the optimum price; quality versus need; consistency of supply; standardisation; economies of scale; minimising cost and losses; managing regulations; and, introducing innovative products and solutions.

Day two saw Dr Katie Laird CBiol MSB FHEA,reader in microbiology, head of the Infectious Disease Research Group Faculty, deputy head of research students present a paper on ‘Current Research on the Infection Risks through Washing Uniforms at Home’.

Dr Laird’s research is centred on the prevention of transmission of Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs) particularly on textiles. Current research projects include the survival of HAIs on nurse’s uniforms, C. difficile transmission on healthcare laundry and reducing the attachment of micro-organisms to textiles.

Sheets from a C. difficile ward where sheets had been infected with the bugs were collected and stored in bags in an outside storage area and after 24 hours infected area swatches were cut and then tested, and then the bag of laundry was washed and the fabric put through the ironer, too. Pre- and post-wash samples were analysed.

“We found 33 spores per 25cm on the bed sheets. “So, we know they do survive. Slides showed the spores have developed a ‘hook’ or ‘anchor’ to cling on [to the textile] making them harder to remove…What the tests do show is that it is best to get contaminated linen into the wash as quickly as possible and not store as this gives the spores the opportunity to develop their clinging propensities,” she said. The research is ongoing.

In other sessions, Ian Hargreaves, Laundry Solutions, chair and treasurer, SHLSLM, posed the question: ‘Are RFID systems value for money?’ while ‘‘Linen Storage – What is the Hospital’s Responsibility?’ was presented by Lisa Grandcourt, head of facilities at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber (RDaSH) NHS Trust. She addressed the importance of suitable linen storage at ward level and the challenges which linen service managers and support service staff are faced with on an operational level.




Alexandra is a leading international provider of men and women’s workwear, corporate clothing and uniforms for a wide range of industries, with over 160 years of experience. Alexandra says its teams are always looking for the next big thing to make your work life easier and more comfortable. The company’s priority is to provide customers with modern, well designed, fit-for-purpose and easy-to care for work clothing to take pride in. All fabrics are subject to rigorous independent testing to ensure high standards are maintained and that hospitals get the best quality, hard-wearing workwear.

AWB Textiles

AWB Textiles (formerly A W Bent Ltd) has supplied the needs of the UK’s healthcare linen sector for over 70 years. Owned and run by the Cook family since 1946 it highlights its excellent reputation for quality, and a service that’s second to none.

The healthcare ranges cover scrub suits, patient gowns and associated linen items, expanding into our premium scrub suit brands such as Dickies and Cherokee for hospital departments looking for a premium quality look. No quantity is too big or too small from large stocks, all available for extremely rapid delivery.

A R Materials Handling

Trading since 2000, the company has actually been involved in the materials handling equipment business for close on 40 years, providing equipment, help and advice to all aspects of industry.

The company says this expertise provides excellent engineered solutions at the right price, taking the hassle away from customers, whether it is a bespoke product or an off the shelf item. Specialised plastic moulding processes as well as tool design and manufacture are the core of the business.

Bryant Plastics

A family firm, founded in 1974 by Barry Bryant and based in West Yorkshire. the company produces an extensive repertoire of materials handling products and plastic fabricating has evolved through over 40 years of designing, manufacturing and supplying solutions for handling needs.

With the technical expertise required to advise the best options from the outset through to the finish of a project Bryant offers a range of customised options to its wide selection of standard products or designing a bespoke unit from scratch to exact requirements. Most of the company’s products are made from industrial quality medium and low density polyethylene.

Behrens Healthcare

Behrens Healthcare (Francis Price Contracts) is a long established company esablished in 1834 and an an approved NHS supplier for over 40 years.

Behrens can supply and install a wide range of FR soft furnishings, including bespoke fabric curtains incorporating award winning innovations such as leading edge embroidered logo messages and ‘curtain last changed’ date audit pockets. The company can supply disposable curtains to fit all tracking systems including the next generation Easyclick hook that allows curtains to be installed in under 30 seconds.

HJ Weir Engineering

HJ Weir Engineering is a family business born in the 1960s – “the originators of flatwork handling technology” as the company proudly claims. Almost any automated laundry in the world will be using Weir technology somewhere in their plant. HJ Weir have been providing separating, feeding, ironing, folding and stacking solutions globally for over 55 years. This year HJ Weir has added an exclusive range of exceptional flatwork ironers and batch washers.


Interweave Textiles Limited is a subsidiary of John Horsfall & Sons. The extensive range of products is specifically designed for use in the healthcare sector – including blankets, bedding, theatre wear, patient wear, towels, pillows, duvets or patient handling equipment. The company is backed by ISO9001: 2008 quality assurance.

MIP (UK) and Cromptons Healthcare

MIP UK, including Cromptons Healthcare, is a textile company dedicated exclusively to healthcare, offering products which are totally fit for purpose and solutions which meet the budgetary requirements and expectations of the modern NHS. MIP UK is now fully established as a leading supplier of healthcare linens offering the following core product range to UK healthcare – sheets and pillowcases, both woven and knitted; towels; patient gowns; theatre suits; nightwear; pillows and duvets; and laundry bags and trolleys.

James Walker Textiles

With over 200 years of experience in manufacturing and supplying textiles,  JWT offers a comprehensive range of durable textiles engineered, where necessary, to meet the most stringent of requirements. The product range includes – but is not limited to - blankets, sheets, pillowcases, pillows, duvets, towels, thermal throws, counterpanes, and patient wear. JWT offers an inherent flame retardant range that meets both EU and British standards.



Washing uniforms

Privacy Policy
We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.