Dozens of health workers at Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust braved the hail and wind to join the UNISON lobby of the Trust’s Board Meeting at Rochdale Infirmary today. The vocal throng gathered to voice their concerns about the planned privatisation of payroll, pensions and some HR functions.
The Trust Board are considering whether to agree proposals that would outsource the Trust’s payroll, pensions and HR functions to ‘Shared Business Services’ (SBS) – a partnership between the Department of Health and Steria – a French-based multinational company.
Almost half of the SBS workforce is based in India and the Trust’s plans would see job losses in Greater Manchester.
Concerns have been raised about SBS’s off-shoring model and data security systems. Steria has also been criticised for its employment practices within the UK. It employs Police staff answering 999 calls in the North East on zero-hour contracts.
Kevin Lucas, Regional Organiser for UNISON, the largest union in the NHS, said:
”The loss of jobs in Greater Manchester will be damaging for the local economy. Health Trusts should not be exploiting low wages in other countries in order to cut costs.”
”This privatisation would be a worrying precedent. We fear that 200 Health Records jobs could also be outsourced and off-shored by Pennine Acute – which would also cause patients concern about data security.”
”The NHS is our greatest national asset and creeping privatisation is a grave concern to us all. Greedy multinational companies should not be profiteering from our NHS.”
The Trust’s proposals also involve contracting legal firm Capsticks to provide an HR Advisory service. Kevin Lucas continued:
”Our experience of outsourcing is that it leads to duplication of work for employers and uncertainty and insecurity for staff. Outsourcing also diverts funds from vital NHS services to distant and unaccountable private companies.”
”We have written to Board members to inform them that should they decide to proceed with these outsourcing proposals, UNISON will consider itself to be in dispute with the Trust and build a campaign of opposition to privatisation at Pennine Acute. We hope that this won’t be necessary and that we can work constructively with the Trust to improve internal systems.”