I applaud Norman Gill’s letter (LCN September 2002) and share his concerns. Sadly, the powers that be still have their heads in the sand.

On May 24 2002, I gave a paper to the Hefma conference highlighting the demise of NHS laundries and laundry provision to the NHS.

The present split is 50/50 NHS and private sector laundries, but it was announced at the Linen Services Conference that targets had now changed with 67% private sector and 33% NHS laundries.

Asked why, the answer was: “It just seemed right.” Really? A major supplier of essentials (sorry, non-core business) decided by “It just seemed right” beggars belief. It looks amateurish, but that suggests unpaid – a far cry from reality.

I highlighted the difficulty in providing contingency plans in the event of a laundry failure. This is because of the large volumes and, as laundries staff according to demand, more so since competitive tendering, getting staff cover at short notice is very difficult. Further, the logistics are rather frightening.

The responsibility for laundries was given to NHS Estates and, oh dear, they don’t really like it. So, the obvious course is to contract the work out. A Labour government privatising by stealth!

I also spelt out that even if laundering is processed by contractors, it needs to be monitored to ensure adherence to NHS guidelines and this is the responsibility of the NHS. Failure to monitor effectively would show negligence by the Trust, and, in the event of claims, would incur some liability.

The paper appeared to be well received by some 200 delegates and a notable representative of NHS Estates supported my paper during questions, even though I had been critical, maybe with a touch of sarcasm.

I have been unable to find any reference/report on the Hefma conference even though healthcare press and an official photographer attended.

How do reporters manage to attend a conference and report nothing? Is it repression or disinterest?

These are the personal views of a speaker at the Hefma conference. Did it happen?