Reacting to the news that some hospital staff at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have voted to take industrial action in July, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called on the trust to think again and scrap its proposals to set up a private limited company.
So-called ‘wholly owned subsidiary’ (WOS) companies are being set up by some NHS hospital trusts in order to run non-clinical services including estates, facilities and procurement. These proposals put short-term financial gain before services and staff. Inevitably they will lead to a further fragmentation of local NHS services and to a decline of service standards as well as a potential increase in service costs over the long term.
Glenn Turp, Regional Director for RCN Yorkshire and the Humber region said:
“We’re very worried about the trust's proposals. Whilst they won’t directly affect our members, the RCN fully understands the decision by our colleagues in Unison to take action. These changes will have a long-term impact on estates, facilities and clinical engineering staff and the essential services they provide.
“Staff transferring to a new company could face changes to their pay, terms and conditions and pensions in the longer term and we can’t see any benefit to patients from this kind of break-up of services.
“Hospitals heavily rely on cleaners, porters, maintenance and facilities staff to enable nursing and clinical staff to care for patients effectively and efficiently and these staff deserve the same working conditions as any others.”
At RCN Congress in 2018 members voted overwhelmingly to oppose transfers of this nature on the grounds that they could create a two-tier workforce in the NHS, with some of the lowest paid members of staff being pushed onto less rewarding contracts outside of the usual terms and conditions.
The RCN will be contacting its members working at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to offer advice for anyone working when colleagues are taking industrial action.
RCN members are not directly affected by the trust proposals and will not be joining any industrial action.