04:56PM, Tuesday 16 March 2021
Unions are celebrating after ‘privatisation’ plans for non-clinical staff at Wexham Park and Heatherwood hospitals have been scrapped.
Frimley NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed that it will no longer be pursuing the creation of a wholly-owned subsidiary (WOS) company to run some of its non-clinical support services.
The plans were first revealed in 2019 and would have seen more than 1,000 staff roles including housekeeping, security and portering transferred to the new company.
These plans were met with a series of strikes and demonstrations from unions including UNISON and GMB which raised fears that the switch would create a ‘two-tier workforce’, with workers operating under separate terms and conditions to the NHS.
Reacting to the news that the plans has been scrapped, Asia Allison, GMB regional organiser said: "This is fantastic news. GMB members who simply refused to accept being privatised have finally seen the threat of being transferred out of the NHS to a wholly owned subsidiary stopped.
“It would appear that in doing so the trust has finally accepted that recent events during the COVID crisis have shown the real value of these staff rather than their value as commodities, and that appears to be the justification to cancel any WOS."
UNISON South East regional organiser Patrick Kenny said: “The trust’s decision to scrap its unpopular and controversial wholly owned subsidiary plans is a massive victory for NHS workers.
“Over a thousand hardworking staff at Wexham Park, Heatherwood and Frimley Park hospitals should never have been put at risk of being taken out of the NHS.
“These staff are passionate about the health service and ran a magnificent campaign against privatisation of the NHS by the backdoor.
“The pandemic has demonstrated more than ever the importance of a unified NHS with everyone working together.
“Staff will be relieved the subsidiary nightmare is behind them. They can now focus once again on providing outstanding care for patients.”
A spokesman from Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have confirmed to staff that we will not be pursuing the creation of a wholly-owned subsidiary and we will continue to work with them to deliver our strategy and to secure the benefits in different ways.”
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