Hard-pressed Uppsala Academic Hospital refuses close to a million euro, while depriving the staff from food

Throwing away between 720,000 and one million euro while trying to get the finances under control. A decision by its management has put the Uppsala Academic Hospital, a leading medical facility in Sweden, soon out of a good option to feed the thousands of staff while they are fighting the COVID19 pandemic.

Featured image: Sjukhus, literally meaning “sick house”
in Swedish (Photo by Marcel Burger)

Like in most other countries the teaching hospital in Uppsala, with 200,000 the fourth largest municipality of Sweden, is very much engaged in treating patients with Corona and many other diseases or injuries. Apart from the lack of protection gear the hospital has had a shortage of much of the basic consumables already months before the crisis, after politicians responsible for the health care in the Uppsala region changed to a cheaper supplier that could not deliver.

The newest fiasco is the hospital’s own personnel restaurant, with 400 seats and take-away food for the 8,000 hospital staff. The kitchen and restaurant have been outsourced for years to a commercial partner for years, and it pays both rent and a revenue percentage of the food sales. Ackis – as the Uppsala Akademiska hospital is locally known – wants to build a new restaurant, but the planned destruction of the building has been postponed until 2022. However, the hospital leaders have chosen not to use the possibility to generate income, while at the same time have reportedly not succeeded in finding an adequate food solution for its workers.

Fill financial holes

Keeping the hospital restaurant open for another two years run by a commercial partner would give Ackis about EUR 750,000 to close to a million in income. The current money flow from the restaurant subcontractor is about EUR 30,000 a month, sources say. The money could likely be of good use to fill holes in the financial budget, where already EUR 28 million had to be cut before the COVID19 pandemic, to make ends meet.

Mountain of plastic boxes

A take-away option in one-time use plastic boxes has apparently not materialized, since no supplier has seemed eager to take up the offer so far. Moreover, the amount of waste created with the take-away solution would give the hospital extra garbage disposal costs, adding to the up to a million already lost on turned down restaurant income until the restaurant building will be demolished. A mountain of plastic boxes is likely not the preferred image that the hospital’s host city would be happy with. The municipality board has been boasting to be the most sustainable city of Sweden as it is the national winner of the WWF international One Planet City Challenge 2020 and has been running to become the best in the world like in 2018.

Contaminated drinking water

Lack of funding and management decisions from both responsible regional politicians and the hospital leadership has plagued the Uppsala Academic Hospital for years. A new building has the hot and cold water pipes, constructed inside the walls, too close to each other, contaminating the drinking water with bacteria. Truck loads of bottled water have to be delivered continuously to keep the building operational.

Labour inspection

The leadership’s focus on IT systems that don’t seem to be able to communicate well with humans has caused the worker unions and the Swedish Labour Inspection to threaten Akademiska with legal steps and legal fines after staff hit the alarm out of frustration and out of fear of patient safety.

The worker organizations reportedly are now also looking into what the hospital leaders are doing with the food supply to its employees. With thousands of hospital workers soon out of a proper capacity to feed themselves, it will just add to what several staff members have named as “a unnecessary stressful working environment”, even before COVID19 times. | Marcel Burger / nordicreporter.com

This story is based on publicly available sources, double-checked with several people up to the rank of medical doctors inside the Uppsala Academic Hospital. For the sake of their job and lives they remain anonymous to the public.

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