The EU won’t stop NHS privatisation: Removing the Tory government will

Chesterfield Royal Hospital to outsource 'essential' service to private company

Four days before the end of the general election campaign Chesterfield Royal Hospital confirm they are to outsource ‘essential’ service to private company

Bosses at Chesterfield Royal Hospital have confirmed they are to outsource an ‘essential’ service to a private company.

The trust which runs the hospital says it has ‘completed a thorough and lengthy review process’ to determine how its medical device management and decontamination services should be provided in future.

Board members had discussed a business case that outlined how the wholly-owned subsidiary would operate in July this year.

Described as ‘one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make in our 15 years as an NHS Foundation Trust’, Board members agreed that creating an independent company was a really tough strategic move to make, necessitated by the current NHS climate.

The Trust already faces an £8 million financial savings challenge for 2018/19 – trying to meet an increase in demand for care, with no growth in funding. Across Derbyshire, health providers and commissioners have a combined deficit of £80 million to resolve.

The business case the Board worked through sets out potential savings of between £2-5 million a year, over the next five years.

NHS services should be provided in the public interest, not for private profit.

Fresh questions over privatisation in the NHS have been asked after new research revealed that £15bn of health service contracts have been handed to private companies since 2015.

The analysis found that almost two-thirds of NHS contracts by value have gone to the private sector in the last four years, and that their total yearly value has almost doubled since then.

The analysis found that almost two-thirds of NHS contracts by value have gone to the private sector in the last four years, and that their total yearly value has almost doubled since then.

The finding casts doubts over health secretary Matt Hancock‘s promise that there would be “no privatisation of the NHS on my watch”.

The research was carried out on behalf of the GMB trade union, which represents many NHS workers, by Tussell, a company that provides data on government contracts.

It found that £14.7bn of the £24bn of outsourced contracts awarded since 2015 went to private companies – equivalent to 61 per cent. 30 per cent went to other NHS bodies, while around 7 per cent went to other bodies such as charities and local authorities.

Last year, £3.6bn worth of outsourced NHS contracts were awarded to private companies – 64 per cent of the total and up from £3bn the previous year. The figure has almost doubled from £1.9bn in 2015.

So far in 2019 £3.3bn (63 per cent) of contracts has been given to organisations in the private sector.

The largest number of contracts went to Care UK Clinical Services (17) and Virgin Care (13), while the biggest in terms of value was a £1bn deal handed to Sirona Care & Health, a not-for-profit enterprise, to provide adult community health services in Bristol, north Somerset and south Gloucestershire for the next ten years.

Rehana Azam, GMB’s national secretary, said: “These shocking figures expose the extent to which our NHS is increasingly falling into private hands.

“Outsourcing is bad news for patients and NHS staff. Time and time again, we have seen private providers fail to deliver while our members’ terms and conditions and the NHS national agreement have been undermined.

She added: “NHS services should be provided in the public interest, not for private profit.

“Urgent action is needed to end outsourcing in the NHS, and we urge NHS workers and everyone who relies on the service to make that case to their local candidates during the election.”

Unison slammed the transfer of more than 700 staff at Chesterfield Royal Hospital to a new independent company as ‘disastrous for patient care’.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “It’s a service that is essential to the safe and effective running of clinical services and by outsourcing we are able to protect terms and conditions for existing staff, make quality and compliance improvements, along with reduced equipment supply and maintenance costs.

The ‘yes’ decision means that the Trust will now consult with more than 700 staff on the protected terms of their transfer into the subsidiary, which will be called Derbyshire Support & Facilities Services (DSFS). The aim is for the company to commence on December 2019, with an initial contract with the Trust for 25 years.

Unison East Midlands regional organiser, Pam Shepherd, said: “These private companies are being established simply to slash the VAT liabilities of trusts, and to cut the pay and pensions for newly recruited staff.

“Staff are being given false promises about extra cash incentives but the fact of the matter is it reinforces a two-tier workforce. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to work out this money will not go to porters, cleaners and caterers but to management further up the food chain.

“The result of this privatisation of Chesterfield Royal Hospital will be an exodus of experienced and caring staff, which will have a disastrous effect on patient care.”

But the hospital says the confirmation will ‘end a period of uncertainty for 700 staff, safeguarding a range of valuable and essential services, and protecting jobs from the risk of third party outsourcing, reduced staffing numbers and even potential redundancies as a way of cutting back on overall costs’.

In July 2018, the board agreed that an independent subsidiary company, 100 per cent owned by the Trust, was the ‘best way forward to future-proof’ its finance, IT, procurement, clinical engineering and facilities and estates services.

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “The government’s proposal for a consultation on wholly owned subsidiaries is a step in the right direction finally, but it falls far short from what Unite is calling for.

“We want that HMRC to close the tax loophole so NHS trusts are not forced to consider outsourcing NHS services to private limited companies in the form of a private wholly-owned subsidiary of NHS trusts.

“We want the new secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock to enforce a moratorium on the further creation of other wholly owned subsidiary companies while this consultation is taking place and for those that are in the process of being created to be paused while the consultation takes place.

“We also think any review should go further so it investigates outsourcing, procurement and commissioning by NHS trusts in England; and seeks the views of patients, employees, local authorities, and health and social care stakeholders.

“The review should aim to establish a fair and transparent ethical outsourcing procurement and commissioning framework which will avoid the mistakes of the past.”

Recently, following protests, the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust backed down on its plan for a wholly owned subsidiary.

“Unlike many other outsourced models the trust’s contract stipulates assurances that decontamination services, including endoscopy decontamination, will remain on site. There are also proposals for theatre equipment management, endoscopy equipment management, along with joint working options and innovation that would lead to exemplar reference site status.”

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