Socialist Worker

NHS victory in Nottingham hits privateers Carillion

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2532

Workers in the GMB union at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, struck for three days over pay and conditions last week - one of many battles in the NHS

Workers in the GMB union at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, struck for three days over pay and conditions last week - one of many battles in the NHS (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Campaigners fighting to defend the NHS across Britain can take heart from a victory against outsourcing giant Carillion in Nottingham last week.

A long-running battle has forced Nottingham University Hospital (NUH) to look into terminating Carillion’s contract.

Since winning the contract to provide cleaning, laundry and catering services in 2014, the privateer has run a failing service.

Richard Buckwell is chair of Notts Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) group. He told Socialist Worker, “Carillion took charge in January 2015—things were going wrong by the summer.

“When the majority of lifts in the main hospital block broke down, they were left unfixed for a long time.

“A rat was then spotted in one of the kitchens—and there were plenty of other hygiene and cleaning issues.”

“We began protesting as soon as Carillion came in alongside the Unison and Unite unions. 

“We protested outside the board meetings. This is a real win and it’s down to health campaigners and trade unions.”

After a protest on Thursday of last week bosses told health campaigners that they would bring the services back in-house by January 2017. 

Employed

Health campaigners have to keep the pressure up to make sure that the privateer—not patients—pays the price for terminating the contract.

Notts KONP campaigners now plan to take on the next big battle—resisting the Sustainability and Transformation (STP) plans.

The STPs would axe hospital departments and services across England.

Richard said, “We’d be looking at 10 percent of beds going across Nottinghamshire.”

These attacks have generated campaigns to defend the health service across Britain.

Labour held a “day of action” for the NHS last Saturday.

Nottingham shows that health campaigners can win. But to push back the Tories’ assault it will take a national campaign of mass protests and hard-hitting strikes.

Unite has backed a national demonstration in defence of the NHS, called by Health Campaigns Together, for 4 March. All trade unions and the Labour Party should back it.


Cuts and profittering lead to chaos and closures in social care

Funding cuts have pushed social care to the brink of collapse, new figures show—and profiteering firms are compounding the crisis.

There are 152 local authorities responsible for providing care for older people.

Some 77 have seen at least one residential and nursing care provider close in the last six months, the Observer newspaper has reported.

As some smaller companies go to the wall other, much larger, corporations are selling up and ditching their so-called commitment to care.

Outsourcing giant Mitie was the latest last week to cut and run.

Vultures such as Mitie boss Lady McGregor-Smith say that having to pay care workers a measly £7.20 an hour is the reason for the crisis.

“Care workers should be paid significantly more but someone has got to pay for it,” she said.

But apparently that someone should not be the firms that are profiting from workers’ labour.


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