Eastern England’s NHS is “Up for Sale”, warns health union
UNISON, The country’s biggest public sector union is warning that plans to hive off NHS community health services, back office services and whole “care pathways” to the private sector in Eastern England are being driven through without consultation with health workers and the local public.
Services worth a total of almost £400 million a year are currently up for grabs, while NHS East of England has set up a dedicated Strategic Projects Team and a “Commercial Advisory Board” to drive the process of privatisation. The same team is behind plans to hand the management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital to the untested and financially troubled Circle Health – a scheme that has been held up for months by Treasury doubts.
UNISON, which has thousands of members in hospitals, community services and Primary care Trusts in the region, has now published an 11-page dossier detailing the plans, which include hiving off community health services in Suffolk – with five private companies among the nine shortlisted bids.
But it also warns that back office shared services provider Anglia Support Partnership is tendering for a private company to take it over – with four large multinationals in the frame to take over the NHS-owned organisation, which has 600 employees and contracts all over England and Northern Ireland.
And complete “care pathways” for three services spending a total of £300m a year have also been offered up, with the strong possibility that the contracts will again be won by the private sector.
But UNISON is also concerned that in none of these cases has there been any consultation with the staff delivering the service or with the local communities, patients and carers who depend upon them. Timelines for each tendering process leave no space to discuss or consult meaningfully: in the case of Suffolk, community services are being put out to tender with no information on the NHS Suffolk website.
UNISON’s Eastern Region Head of Health Tracey Lambert said:
“It’s a scandal. There is no accountability at all. The NHS is paying the salaries and running costs of bodies that appear dedicated to handing public services and assets over to private companies – and to ensuring that neither staff nor public have any chance to affect this one-way process.
“UNISON believes taxpayers and service users should join us in demanding transparency on these deals – and evidence of what the powerful and well-resourced Strategic Projects Team, and the “Commercial Advisory Board” are delivering for the public sector.”
FURTHER DETAILS: Tracey Lambert
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