North West Anglia’s health heroes face being sold out of the NHS

North West Anglia’s pandemic ‘heroes’ now face being sold out of the NHS, unions UNISON and Unite warn today.

Over 70 catering, logistics and patient services staff in Peterborough, Hinchingbrooke and Stamford & Rutland hospitals have been told their jobs will be outsourced to a private provider.

Not only will staff suffer as they will no longer be entitled to NHS pay and conditions, but patients will likely experience deteriorating standards as a new private employer looks to save money and squeeze a profit out of the contract, warn the unions.

Plans for the North West Anglia Hospitals Trust’s award-winning catering team would be particularly harmful, warn the unions. A new firm would no longer freshly prepare food at Hinchingbrooke but will bring in pre-cooked food which unions fear will drive down standards for patients, their relatives and staff.

The Trust wants the 70-plus staff to join more than 100 other cleaning, portering and retail staff currently employed by three other outsourcers, bringing them under a single private employer.

The unions say that single employer should be the NHS but so far the Trust is not even considering an in-house bid.

NWAFT originally started the outsourcing process in March but paused because of the pandemic at the unions’ insistence.

Companies are now being invited to put in tenders for the contracts by 18 September but unions say staff are being kept in the dark about the Trust’s plans for their jobs.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Cheryl Godber said: “It’s taken an army of health workers to battle Covid-19 — not only doctors and nurses taking on the disease, but cleaners stopping the spread of infection, caterers providing staff and patients with the strength to carry on, logistics staff keeping everything moving and countless others.

“But the claps have turned into a slap in the face for these health heroes, as Trust bosses are plotting to throw them out of the NHS team and onto worse pay and conditions.

“And it’s not just staff who will suffer — outsourcing means lower standards of hygiene, worse food and poorer levels of service. The Trust should drop this half-baked privatisation plan and bring its workers back in house.”

Unite regional officer Adam Oakes said: “Outsourcing NHS staff to private providers at a time when the NHS is stretched fighting a national health pandemic is completely unacceptable it will detrimentally affect patient care as well as cutting the pay and conditions of vital hardworking front line staff.

“Unions are opposed to the outsourcing of NHS services to private companies as they care more about profit than patient care. Unite urges NWAFT to reconsider this decision and to work with the  unions to bring those services that are already outsourced back in house, under one employer: the NHS.”