Unison union members at five sites of NHS Logistics, the not for profit agency that supplies hospitals, are balloting for strike action against privatisation.
Meanwhile, questions have emerged about the legality of the department of health’s plans for the agency.
The original notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) in August 2004, was for the sell off of the logistics agency - a deal worth about £700 million.
The US-German consortium DHL-Novation is now thought to be likely to win the contract.
However, since the OJEU notice, the department of health has extended the privatisation to cover sections of the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency. The deal is now worth £3.7 billion.
Fred Harvey, an adviser to the Chartered Institute of Purchase and Supply, told Supply Management magazine, “The rules indicate that if the contract you propose to let is significantly different from the advertised requirements, then you should start the process again and issue a new tender notice.”
The government’s attempt to escalate the privatisation plan by stealth makes the struggle to keep NHS Logistics in public hands more crucial than ever.
The strike ballot closes on Friday of next week, with a result expected on the following Monday.
Send messages of support and donations to NHS Logistics Unison, St Barnabus Close, Allington, Maidstone, Kent, ME16 0LW. Make cheques payable to “Unison - NHS Logistics Dispute”.