Socialist Worker

Help health workers stop the sell off of NHS Logistics

by Paul Harper, Unison branch secretary, NHS Logistics South branch
Issue No. 2004

”Keep our NHS Logistics public” is the message our branch has sent to the government and the new undersecretary for health Andy Burnham.

NHS Logistics has been targeted for privatisation by the New Labour government under the guise of an “arms length body”.

This is seen as an easy way to get rid of 1,600 staff out of a total of 5,000.

NHS Logistics is a not for profit organisation, which in the last few years has won several major awards and pumped over £15 million back into NHS trusts in rebates.

We have freed up thousands of hours of nurses’ time by using a new computerised orderering system, saving the NHS millions of pounds.

Why get rid of this organisation?

The small Maidstone branch of the Unison union, which only has 200 members, refuses to give up, saying the fight is not over yet.

The Maidstone branch along with four other small Unison branches, in Alfreton, Normanton, Runcorn and Bury St Edmunds, are in the process of consulting their members for strike action

A recent consultive ballot saw 92 percent vote in favour of strike action.

A deal on the future of NHS Logistics should have been struck by the end of May – with the US company DHL/ Novation taking over on 1 July. But this seems to have hit a snag.

The Maidstone branch is waiting for the latest timetable to come out, with an expected further two months delay.

The original date we were given was 1 April, so the totally unnecessary project, which is now costing millions in taxpayers money, is six months behind.

NHS Logistics South branch has campaigned very hard against the threat of privatisation, lobbying dozens of MPs and putting together a petition.

Over 2,000 people signed our petition, which was handed to former undersecretary for health, Jane Kennedy, who subsequently resigned over differences with health secretary Patricia Hewitt.

In the latest move in the campaign I have organised the first rally in the town for over ten years, under the banner of the national organisation Keep Our NHS Public.

The rally is set to take place on Saturday 1 July, in Maidstone’s Brenchley Gardens next to Maidstone East railway station.

Hopefully the rally will be joined by those fighting over other issues, such as the 300 jobs losses in the Maidstone Hospital Trust and 160 at Medway.


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News
Sat 10 Jun 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2004
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