Outsourcing Salisbury hospital staff will create two-tier workforce

Dedicated NHS staff face being transferred to a new arms-length private company if plans by Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust go ahead, UNISON has warned.

Staff at Salisbury District Hospital have today (Monday) been informed of the trust’s proposals during a day of briefings that will kick-start a month-long consultation period.

The move will affect 375 health workers including porters, switchboard operators and couriers.

In April this year, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by UNISON revealed that the trust was planning to spend £300,000 on advice from consultants regarding the establishment of wholly owned subsidiaries.

UNISON says that subsidiary companies appeal to NHS trusts because they can use them to reduce their VAT payments, and cut the pay and pensions for any new staff. The health workers transferred in similar exercises elsewhere in the country tend to be the lowest paid staff within the NHS, such as porters and cleaners.

Staff at the hospital have received praise in recent months for their dealing of the Novichok incidents, with home secretary Sajid Javid thanking them for their ‘tireless professionalism and for the dedicated way they are providing it’.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “It is unacceptable to contract out these hard-working members of staff who have chosen to be part of the NHS team.

“If the trust goes ahead with these plans, it will create a two-tier workforce where new staff are likely to be far worse off in terms of their pay and pensions.

“The trust needs to find a different way of saving money that won’t have such a negative impact on patients, services and staff.”