Privatisation threatened at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) has told hundreds of cleaners, porters and caterers today their jobs could be moved out of the NHS, says UNISON.

In a letter to staff, chief executive Nick Hulme says the trust is to privatise housekeeping, security and other services related to the running of Colchester and Ipswich hospitals and ESNEFT’s community services.

Colchester’s services are currently in house, but Ipswich Hospital’s facilities are outsourced to private company OCS. The OCS contract ends in April 2025 and the ESNEFT board has decided to put all services out to a single tender over the next 12 months, says UNISON.

The union warns further outsourcing will hit the quality of services and create a two-tier workforce, with new hires paid less and subject to worse conditions than their NHS colleagues.

UNISON Eastern head of health Caroline Hennessy said: “Staff are up in arms after this bombshell has been dropped on them.

“The trust should have used the end of the OCS contract to bring all facilities management back in house, where staff are treated better and able to provide higher-quality services to patients. Instead workers are being thrown to the wolves so that some private company can milk some cash out of the health service.

“This isn’t about improving quality, it’s about saving a few quid. Nick Hulme and the board are in for a shock if they think staff will take this attack lying down.”

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