A line in the sand over further privatisation of the NHS in London needs to be drawn, Unite, the country’s largest union, has said.
The latest cause for controversy is at King's College Hospital (KCH) NHS Foundation Trust where, it is claimed, current privatisation plans seek to reduce the trust’s tax costs by transferring specialist equipment (including neonatal care incubators) and staff to a private company wholly-owned by the trust board.
The impact on staff is the threat of a serious erosion of employment terms and conditions which has already started.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “If you cut through the complexity what we have here is an attack on staff conditions and a further fragmentation of the NHS in London.
“Unite strongly believes that fragmentation has an adverse effect in the long-term on patient services – and that’s why we are raising the alarm at this trust. A line in the sand needs to be firmly drawn over accelerating NHS privatisation in London.”
Unite and Unison has written to the trust’s chair, former top mandarin, Lord Kerslake calling for an immediate halt to more services being transferred to Kings Interventional Facilities Management (KIFM) until a review has been held.
In the letter, the unions said that there has been ‘an atrocious erosion of KCH staffs’ terms and conditions under KIFM’s regime’ and that decisions are being made ‘without any meaningful consultation with the people who do the work’.
Two major grievances – signed, so far, by 55 KIFM staff – have been lodged in relation to KIFM working practices. Staff are concerned about threats to NHS pensions, sickness entitlement, loss of paid maternity leave and a diminution of redundancy terms.
The unions warn that the trust could be left as ‘a shell of an organisation staffed solely by a highly paid team of managers. The foot soldiers, the most valuable asset of any organisation, will have left them to their fate’.
It takes ‘bravery and wisdom to acknowledge mistakes and poor decision-making’, following the establishment of KIFM in June last year.
Notes to editors:
The unions represent the affected staff, which number about 200, including clinical scientists, healthcare assistants, theatre technicians and specialist procurement staff.
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.