A determined fight by 72 in-house support staff at Hinchingbrooke Hospital has successfully fought off plans by North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust to outsource the services without even submitting an in-house tender.

The staff, members of UNISON and Unite, pointed to the high quality and low costs of the award-winning catering department, and the high quality of the portering, logistics and linen services at Hinchingbrooke, which was merged with Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals to form the current Trust. The union response highlighted the 46% higher cost of factory-produced reheated food at Peterborough compared with the freshly-cooked, locally sourced food for patients and staff in Hinchingbrooke – and the lack of any business case to explain what the Trust was aiming to achieve.

Now, while the trust will continue to run the tender process for services currently provided by external contractors, it has been agreed that existing in-house services will no longer be part of that tender, and all 72 staff members will continue to be employed directly by the Trust.

Sam Hemraj, UNISON representative for North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is great news for staff who work at Hinchingbrooke Hospital who will remain in the NHS, where they belong, and be able to continue providing excellent services for patients and staff while on NHS terms and conditions.”

* Could we be about to see a halt to tax-dodging efforts by Trusts to hive off NHS staff into subcos? New proposals to reform VAT laws relating to trusts could be some light at the end of the tunnel reports Richard Bourne in this update available on the ONLINE Lowdown.

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