Trade union GMB has called on Medirest Compass Group to withdraw disciplinary action against a hospital worker accused of stealing a food donation that it says was intended for all hospital staff.
GMB said it was “stunned” at the accusation, which involves a female employee who has worked at North Middlesex University Hospital for 23 years.
The worker is understood to have been subjected to disciplinary proceedings over claims that she stole a meal that was provided by a charity that donated food in support of all hospital workers during the pandemic.
GMB London said it has seen evidence that the food donations were for all hospital staff, not just those employed by the NHS.
It added that its member had worked all through the Covid period and, along with all staff, received donated food during this period. She took a meal package as she had before from a trolly.
Krissy O’Hagan, GMB London region organiser, said: “At the disciplinary hearing, I questioned the chair about food donations and he confirmed that this food was not intended for Medirest Compass staff and that it belonged to the NHS. I was shocked that he didn’t know that this was free donations for all staff.
“My member even provided a written statement from the donation distribution staff, confirming these food donations were for all hospital staff. Another witness was willing to attend the meeting to support our member but this was refused by the chair of the hearing.
“Medirest is being so callous about this issue, given the scale of the risk to all workers at the hospital who continued to work each day during the pandemic, this is not the way to treat staff who have given so much.”
GMB London Region said it is asking Medirest Compass to withdraw the disciplinary action and that NMUH Trust confirms that all staff are entitled to receive the food donations.
A spokesperson for Medirest said: “This is an ongoing investigation and therefore would be inappropriate for us to comment on the detail of the individual’s case.
“Many hospitals we work at have been receiving food donations from charities and voluntary organisations. North Middlesex University Hospital set up a dedicated Donations team to handle all donations.
“In line with this, there are clear protocols in place for our employees to follow to ensure all those who are eligible to receive donations are able to do so, and that donations are fairly distributed. It’s essential these protocols are followed.
“We take the complaints process very seriously and have robust HR procedures in place. It’s very important to Medirest that our employees have a full and fair hearing and there is an opportunity for appeal.”