Win! Unions welcome “pause” in subco roll-out

UNISON members on strike at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust

Plans to privatise part of the health service by creating wholly-owned subsidiary companies – or subcos – have been halted after the intervention of NHS Improvement.

The body, which regulates the health service’s finances, has ordered England’s 240 trusts to “pause” the controversial plans to create any more of the subsidiary companies.

Unions have welcome the announcement because they have long opposed the plans, fearing staff’s working conditions would suffer if they were no longer employed by the NHS and covered by the Agenda for Change.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “This whole policy has been a damaging distraction. Valuable resources that could have gone on improving care have been wasted.

“Saving money has been the sole motive for outsourcing jobs to private companies. Cash-strapped trusts have seen it as an opportunity for solving their financial woes.

“But they didn’t anticipate the outrage among staff and including porters, cleaners and those in catering who want to stay in the NHS. Recent threatened action by UNISON at Tees and industrial action at Wigan successfully stopped subco plans in their tracks.

“The NHS is already set to face another tough winter. Trusts must now plan ahead and work with unions to make the best possible use of resources.”

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “We regard this as a significant victory in Unite’s long-running campaign to stop the creation of such subsidiaries – and then to reverse them.

“We believe this is in the best interests of patient safety and our members who wish to remain employed by the NHS and not outsourced to an outfit where their pay and employment conditions could be seriously eroded.

“Clarity is needed from the NHS Improvement statement yesterday on wholly owned subsidiaries since this may be able to help resolve the industrial disputes in East Kent and York regarding employee transfers to wholly owned subsidiaries on 1 October.”



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