Thousands of NHS jobs are being outsourced to private 'arms-length' companies, but workers are fighting the plans.
Plans are afoot around the UK which would “open the door” to NHS privatisation – moving staff employed by the health service to new private ‘arms-length companies’ – but opposition is growing amongst staff.
NHS bosses’ plans to outsource non-clinical services in the NHS will lead to “a Pandora’s Box of dozens of Carillion-type meltdowns”, Unison warned this weekend as staff around the country took action against the plans.
In Huddersfield, staff are reportedly close to striking over hospital chiefs’ plans to outsource key hospital services to a private company.
The hospital bosses in West Yorkshire plan to move almost 400 cleaners, gardeners, porters and maintenance workers out of the NHS to a new private ‘arms-length’ company.
Although the NHS trust says the company will be a “wholly owned subsidiary”, Unison say it leaves the door open for a future sell-off and is in effect ”privatisation” and a “tax dodge”.
Unison said that 95% of its members at the hospital have backed going on strike to keep their contracts unchanged. Dan Wood, a Unison organiser, said:
“These are people who believe absolutely in the NHS, and have devoted their lives to working in service.
“They will not accept being transferred to a private company where their terms and conditions of employment – including their pensions – could be affected.
Meanwhile NHS staff in Gloucestershire were protesting this weekend over bosses’ plans to outsource 750 non-clinical roles to a new private company.
“Any privatisation of staff has a detrimental effect on the NHS. As budgets get squeezed and profit becomes a priority you get general cuts and a worse service” – one protester told a local paper.
And in Harrogate similar plans are afoot, with NHS bosses planning to outsource 350 jobs – whilst Unison members voted 97% against the proposals.
But the battle against NHS privatisation can and is being won: earlier this month a hospital in Bristol scrapped plans to set up an arms-length company for 850 roles, after staff opposed the plans.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.