East Kent Laundry Service (EKLS) provide a linen service to East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT), private healthcare facilities and university establishments in the south east.
Andrew Walsh, Laundry Manager, and Wendy Barker, Laundry Supervisor, head up the team at William Harvey Hospital where the laundry factory is based.
Andrew said: “The most rewarding part of the job is having a team of staff who can always be relied upon to go above and beyond when the need arises, especially during the current covid pandemic which provided a seven-day service for PPE scrubs suits and work wear across EKHUFT.
“There are many challenges we face within the team, due to the age of machinery, sourcing parts can be very difficult and time consuming especially when production levels still have to be fully maintained. The past 17 months has also been a challenge to run a fully operational industrial laundry with social distancing and other Covid related guidelines. We also have the issue of maintaining stock levels when linen is misused, stolen, cut, incorrectly sent into clinical waste stream and discharged with patients. There is a perception that we are like Amazon i.e. we have a warehouse full of linen and can supply instantly.”
Every year, additional stock is put into the system:
- 18,000 sheets
- 11,000 pillow cases
- 8,500 blankets
- 21,000 bath towels
- 2,900 operation gowns
- 7,500 nightdresses
- 6,000 nightshirts
- 5,000 sets of pyjamas
Andrew added; “EKLS is renowned in the laundry industry as offering a quality product and this is entirely down to the teams within EKLS. They are a very hard-working group of individuals who all aspire to provide an excellent service. There is an ethos that the patient deserves the best at all times.
“As a management team, Wendy and I are both extremely proud of the services the teams provide and are proud of them individually.”
Here are what different teams within the laundry service said about their areas:
“We find it very rewarding when lost property is returned to its owner, we receive numerous valuable items, such as jewellery, iPods, mobile phones, wallets and purses, bank cards, false teeth and hearing aids.” – Admin Team
“Our biggest challenge is when machines have breakdowns, we need to work harder to maintain production. This is very challenging in the summer months as we do not have any air conditioning/cooling in the factory.” – Calendar Team
“Maintaining ageing equipment, whilst keeping laundry production flowing is always a challenge, especially during the covid pandemic when the factory opened at the weekends. It was vital to keep all machines fully maintained so that there was no downtime in providing the vital service that EKLS provides.” – Engineering Team
“We are a small cog in a big wheel that provides a vital service in getting laundry to the hospitals.” – Packing Department
“Prior to Covid, there were approximately 3000 – 4000 scrubs in the circulation and this increased to 40000 sets. The section has processed 626,929 sets of PPE scrubs during the pandemic or 1,253,858 pieces as well as all the patient wear. To cope with this, the factory opened at the weekend to process the additional scrub suits.” – Press Section
“We would like to think people respect the hard work we have to go through each day to keep the laundry going.” – Sorting Room
“We find it rewarding when we meet our targets for completing the uniform orders. It’s also rewarding to help staff members with their uniform issues” – Uniform Department
“It’s rewarding Working as a team in providing vital services to the EKHUFT and knowing that we do a good job. The heat in the factory and the machines not working can be two big challenges.” – Wash Room