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NHS strikes against outsourcing set to take place in Kent and York

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Issue 2622
NHS workers strike against a wholly-owned subsidiary in Wigan
NHS workers strike against a wholly-owned subsidiary in Wigan (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Health workers are stepping up the fight against a dangerous new form of privatisation that threatens the NHS.

Unite union members at three hospitals in Kent plan a five?day strike from Monday of next week against plans to outsource their jobs.

And Unite members at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust plan a 48-hour strike from Thursday of next week.

They are fighting bosses’ plans to outsource their jobs to wholly?owned subsidiaries.

While the trusts would—for now—remain the sole shareholder, wholly-owned subsidiaries are a step towards privatisation.

They allow bosses to undermine workers’ wages, terms and conditions.

At the Royal Bolton Hospital, wholly-owned subsidiary iFM won’t give its workers the same pay rise as those directly employed by the NHS. The Unison union is balloting workers for action in response.

By slashing the wage bill, health bosses can make facilities and estate services more attractive for private companies in the long term.

The bosses’ hope is that wholly?owned subsidiaries will attract private sector executives who will run the NHS more like a private firm. And they would also be more likely to sell off chunks of the NHS’s lucrative land portfolio to private developers.

Many hospital bosses are nervous about pushing through this latest attack after strikes at Wigan, Wrightington and Leigh NHS Trust forced bosses to withdraw the threat of outsourcing in July.

And bosses at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys trust in north east England backed off from similar plans last week.

Trade unionists should build solidarity with workers who strike or campaign against these plans. And if leaders of all the unions coordinated action across hospitals they could see off this latest privatisation threat.

Crisis in mental health staff

The Tories have admitted that 2,000 nurses, therapists and psychiatrists are leaving mental health services every month.

Some 23,686 mental health workers left the NHS between June 2017 and the end of May this year. Mental health services have lost one in eight of the total workforce.

And one in ten mental health posts were vacant at the end of June this year.

The figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care should be a major embarrassment for former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

He pledged to increase the number of NHS mental health workers by 19,000 by 2021.

It was part of a plan to cope with increasing patient numbers and provide 24/7 care. But the Tories’ commitment to cuts and privatisation means they cannot achieve it.

Poverty pay, rocketing workloads and underfunding are forcing workers out.


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