Over 200 UNISON members at a Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust – 97% of those voting – have voted to take strike action next month amid fears over “backdoor privatisation” of some of its services.

UNISON balloted its 313 affected members after the Trust unveiled plans to set up a wholly owned subsidiary company – securing a 70% turnout, and recruiting another 37 members.

The Trust plans to transfer around 600 staff from its estates, facilities and clinical engineering departments into the new company, but denies it is privatising services.

UNISON Regional Organiser Natalie Ratcliffe was clear:

“This sends a clear message to the Trust that members are angry about these proposals. They clearly want to stay employed within the NHS to ensure they retain NHS conditions of service – and remain part of the NHS ‘family’, as the Trust describes its employees.”

“The Trust have said they will guarantee that these members will have their pay and conditions for up to 25 years. Our members see that this is a promise that can be very easily broken.”

Meanwhile in Birmingham, about 40 NHS porters, housekeepers, domestic assistants and maintenance staff at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, who face being transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) will strike for three days on 24-26 June after a 92% vote for action against being transferred to Summerhill Services Ltd from 1 July.

Unite regional officer Frank Keogh said:

“This unpalatable transfer will strip our members of their status as NHS employees and is a part of the accelerating backdoor privatisation of the health service. Ultimately, it will lead to salami slicing of patient services. Unite is disappointed that trust bosses want to push ahead with their plans, despite the overwhelming opposition of the workforce.

“We are strongly against the formation of these entities which, we believe, could lead to a Pandora’s Box of Carillion-type meltdowns – with adverse knock-on effects on patient services and jobs.”

About 1,000 NHS housekeeping, estates management, equipment maintenance, catering, procurement and security staff at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust could also face being transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary (WOS). The Frimley trust provides NHS hospital services for about 900,000 people across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey and south Buckinghamshire.

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