COMMERCIAL: The Surrey FT has announced that it wants to put out a tender for its entire catering facilities, which means a volunteer service will no longer be required.

The trust’s contract with its current supplier is due to be re-tendered shortly, which it says offers it a chance to invest in and restructure its catering services

Ashford and St Peter’s deputy chief executive Valerie Bartlett said: “We would very much like to bring all our public restaurant facilities into the main building at St Peter’s hospital – more convenient for both visitors and staff – which would mean a major capital development.

“At Ashford we would like to provide a smaller, better located restaurant facility in the main entrance with a new tea and snack bar in our main outpatient department which is due to be refurbished next year.”

However, this would be at the expense of the League of Friends, whose staff and volunteers currently run shops, cafes and a trolley service at both of the trust’s hospitals. The group has told local papers it feels it is being “evicted”.

Ms Bartlett said: “In order to attract a supplier with the right infrastructure to make the levels of investment we are looking for, we have taken the decision to include all our catering outlets within the tender including those currently provided by the hospital Leagues of Friends and the WRVS.

“Unfortunately this would mean that we would lose the catering and retail services of our much valued volunteers and is not a decision we have taken lightly. However, we recognise that the changing needs of patients, visitors and staff, do require levels of investment and development that are best met by a larger commercial supplier.

She added: “The contribution our hospital Friends and the WRVS make on behalf of our patients and staff is huge and very much valued by the trust. Moving forward, we will be working closely with them to find new and alternative ways to fundraise and support our hospitals.

“We hope to be able to appoint our new contractor by the end of the year with new arrangements in place by the beginning of April next year.”