The volunteers’ shop at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital is set to close for three weeks next month before it reopens with a whole new image.
It is believed the shop, which has been run in the Atrium at the GWH by the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service for a decade, will be taken over by Compass Group and transformed into a Costa Coffee and shop.
The shop is leased by the WRVS from The Hospital Company which own the hospital under the Private Finance Initiative. But the lease comes to an end next month.
Shortly before Christmas, the 78 volunteers who run the shop and the popular trolley service for patients, were told they had been unsuccessful in a retendering exercise for the shop. This meant it would be run by a new supplier, thought to be Compass Group, a food service and support services organisation.
The shop will close on February 28 for three weeks before reopening as part Costa Coffee and part shop.
John Clifford, WRVS area manager for Swindon, said: “WRVS can confirm the shop at the Great Western Hospital will be closing on February 28. We are in negotiations with the hospital with a view to continuing the trolley and escort services.”
Concerns have been raised by volunteers that the changes will mean the trolley service, which involves regular trips to wards to give patients a selection of refreshments, newspapers and magazines, and the escort service, which helps wheelchair users get to and from various departments and clinics around the hospital, will be lost altogether.
The Hospital Company has refused to comment.
A volunteer, who aked not to be named, said: “The shop will be shut for three weeks and then apparently it is going to be half Costa and half shop.
“There are two petitions going out at the moment to try and save the trolley service and also the escort service because there are question marks over it – the shop used to fund the escort service, the money the shop made went to that service so nobody knows what is going to happen.
“Everyone is feeling really sad about it all. Nobody can understand why it is being replaced, it was serving the patients and visitors so well.
“Rumour has it that the contract for Cafe Blue at the back of the treatment centre is coming up soon and that will apparently go to Compass too – apparently they are Carillion’s main rival and with all the bad press Carillion have had recently with the strikes and everything, people are beginning to wonder how long they will be there for.”