NHS England is considering either axing 900 jobs in an internal reorganisation or privatising services with some work being transferred to India.
The cuts affect mainly low paid workers carrying out a wide range of vital administrative work, including dealing with prescription charges, payments to GPs, opticians and dentists as well as referrals for cancer screening.
NHS England is set to choose between conducting an internal restructure where there will be job losses and office closures, or handing a £60m contract to Shared Services Connected Ltd (a private company owned 75% by Steria Ltd), without having gone through any kind of tendering or procurement process. If the contract is transferred to SSCL Ltd, there will be at least similar numbers of redundancies – the cost of which will apparently be met by the NHS.
The four NHS England offices in Greater Manchester are all threatened with closure. This would affect around 60 staff and remove the current local support provided to GPs in the area. GPs could potentially have to pay for some services that are currently provided without charge, diverting funds away from meeting health needs.
Paul Foley, UNISON North West Head of Health said:
“We are concerned that moving medical data to private sector organisations and potentially offshoring the work will impact on the security of that information.
“Amongst the crucial roles that these staff perform is informing people of the need to undertake screenings for serious conditions including cancer. If this system were to fall down it would have a serious effect on public safety.
“We are calling on NHS England to halt this process and think again.”