‘Trend’ of transferring NHS staff to private companies ‘unacceptable’, UNISON

Most people believe that transferring NHS staff to private companies is unacceptable, a new study suggests.

Unison said its research among over 2,000 members of the public showed concerns about the “piecemeal privatisation” of the health service.

The union said there has been an increasing trend to transfer staff to firms outside the NHS, which means they have separate managers as well as different ways of working to those directly employed by the health service.

Half of those polled said they feared the efficiency of the NHS could be undermined as a result of non-medical workers – including cleaners, porters and catering workers – being outsourced.

The figures are published on the day that around 1,000 staff go on strike at hospitals run by Frimley Health NHS Foundation trust across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey and south Buckinghamshire.

The dispute by employees including porters, caterers and estates workers is over fears their jobs will be privatised.

Staff working for the Frimley trust that runs three hospitals – Frimley Park, Heatherwood and Wexham Park – had voted overwhelmingly to take action over changes to their contracts following a move to a subsidiary company.

Following last-minute talks, Unison called off the first round of strike action late on Sunday night as the trust agreed not to continue with its existing wholly owned subsidiary plans while other options are pursued.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis (pictured) said: “Dedicated hospital staff doing exactly the same roles shouldn’t miss out on nationally agreed pay deals, but more and more trusts are going down this route.

“Some are losing four-figure sums from their pay packets, which is causing financial hardship for the cleaners, caterers, porters and security staff who keep the NHS running.

“The health service is already struggling for staff and the two-tier system being created means more people will leave, with a direct impact on the quality of patient care.

“The next government has to call a halt to the creeping privatisation, which is tearing at the fabric of our precious NHS, and return all contracts back in-house.”

Only a third of those polled said transferring NHS staff to work for private companies was acceptable.

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