Public don’t want NHS staff outsourced to private companies, says UNISON

The majority of the public (54%) think transferring NHS staff to private companies is unacceptable, according to a UNISON/ComRes poll published today.

The findings also highlight how half (50%) of those polled fear the efficiency of the NHS could be undermined as a direct result of non-medical health employee – including cleaners, porters and catering workers – being outsourced.Majority of

There has been an increasing trend to transfer staff over to firms outside the NHS, which means they have separate managers as well as different ways of working to those directly employed by the health service.

The findings come amid concerns about the piecemeal privatisation of the NHS and show the public recognises the importance of team-working in the NHS, says UNISON.

The survey of more than 2,000 people found that just a third (34%) believe transferring NHS staff over to work for private companies is acceptable.

There is concern that this growing country-wide trend could have a negative impact on NHS efficiency, safety, cleanliness, food quality and employment satisfaction for staff.

The study found the vast majority (78%) of people believe non-medical employees are just as important to the health service as staff who deliver treatment such as doctors, nurses and midwives.

More than three in five (63%) say it’s unfair that the transfer of staff can affect the pay and conditions of workers, meaning they are in a worse position than those in equivalent roles still employed in the NHS.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “It’s simply unfair. Dedicated hospital staff doing exactly the same roles shouldn’t miss out on nationally agreed pay deals, but more and more trusts are going down this route.

“Some are losing four-figure sums from their pay packets, which is causing financial hardship for the cleaners, caterers, porters and security staff who keep the NHS running.

“The health service is already struggling for staff and the two-tier system being created means more people will leave, with a direct impact on the quality of patient care.

“The next government has to call a halt to the creeping privatisation, which is tearing at the fabric of our precious NHS, and return all contracts back in house.”

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