It’s up to Princess Alexandra to stop hospital strike

The Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust has released a statement, calling its domestics decision to take six days of strike action ‘unprecedented’ and repeating its claim that no decision has been made about outsourcing its services.

What is precedented is hospitals market testing their cleaning and catering services before selling them out of the NHS, leading to dramatic reductions in quality and worse experiences for staff and patients.

It is even precedented at Princess Alexandra Hospital in the ’90s. The domestic services only lasted a few months is the private sector before they failed so badly they were brought back in house.

The Trust is keen to point out it has not made a decision, apparently boasting that it has left its loyal workers in limbo since February.

UNISON has repeatedly expressed its willingness to work with PAH on modernising its services, but we cannot do this with the threat to their jobs, pay and conditions hanging over their heads.

All the domestics are seeking is a guarantee that the market testing process will not result in the outsourcing of the domestic services. If the Trust makes this guarantee we will immediately call off strike action.

It is disingenuous of Princess Alexandra Hospital to blame UNISON for this strike when the Trust has refused to take any steps to reassure the domestics that their jobs are safe in the NHS.

The domestics are proud to be a ‘valuable part of the PAHT team,’ doing jobs that ‘are an essential part of ensuring [the] hospital is clean, safe, welcoming and ready for … patients, visitors and staff.’

That’s why they voted 99% in favour of strikes to stay in the NHS, working for the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust.

Instead of producing condescending statements suggesting the domestics have been led astray by outsiders, the Trust should listen to its employees concerns and promise to safeguard their future in the NHS.

Domestics are making this stand for their patients as well as their own futures. We’re sure from the messages of public support we’ve received so far that the people of Harlow understand that and support them.

UNISON again reminds the Trust that it can end this dispute with a promise not to outsource domestic services.

Once it does that we look forward to once again working positively with PAH so the hospital can continue delivering quality healthcare for the people of Harlow.