Yeovil hospital staff transfer to private company marred by secrecy and grievance

Today 350 Yeovil hospital staff transfer to private company “Simply Serve” and lose their NHS badges.

A group of staff have lodged a collective grievance against the hospital for the way they have handled the transfer to the subco set up by the Trust.

In an unprecedented move, Trust bosses have banned a scheduled event set up by UNISON. The union, which represents the staff affected by the subco transfer, will instead be at the hospital gate ready to talk to anxious staff.

Union campaigners plan to go ahead with a meeting in the staff canteen on Friday instead. At the meeting staff representatives will cut a cake, mirroring how the subco has sliced up the NHS team.

The transfer, which has been opposed in a petition signed by over one third of Yeovil hospital staff, was marked by secret meetings and a lack of information. Hospital bosses refused to release the business case for the subco until after the final decision was made.

Health professionals in Somerset CCG have expressed concern that Yeovil’s subco will mean patients get less joined-up care.

Staff at Yeovil District Hospital gave the following comments:

A cleaner said: “We were never kept up to date on what was happening. I feel thoroughly let down by the Trust”

A catering staff member said: “They say nothing will change for five years but we will see. I would prefer to stay in the NHS”

A medical staff member said: “It’s very sad. It brings us closer to privatisation. It doesn’t help teamwork if teams that are meant to work together are split between different companies”

UNISON South West head of health Helen Eccles said:

“These cleaners, cooks and porters are the heart of the hospital. If you or a loved one has to go into hospital, it’s these staff who make sure you’re fed and in clean sheets, and that medics have clean tools and equipment. Putting these workers into a separate company is a disservice to their contribution.

“Splitting up staff won’t only affect morale and recruitment, it also risks lower quality of care. This subco puts up artificial walls between the people who move a patient into the theatre and the people who do the operating. That’s a recipe for poor communication and errors. Patients expect better and staff want to deliver better – but Yeovil bosses are treating the hospital like a toy train set.

“Staff are worried about losing their pensions, wages, and colleagues. Most of all they’re unhappy about losing their NHS badge and the pride that goes with it. Staff are in UNISON to get a strong united voice, so it’s unacceptable that hospital bosses are stopping them from talking to their union.

Find out more more about the Yeovil hospital staff transfer