UNISON to fight backdoor privatisation of Frimley Health NHS Trust

Plans by Frimley NHS Trust to transfer the jobs of caterers, porters, security workers and administrative staff to a private company are a form of back-door privatisation that will be opposed, says UNISON.

More than 800 workers could have their roles moved to a wholly owned subsidiary company being set up by the trust as a way to cut costs and exploit a tax loophole.

Wholly owned subsidiary companies, or subcos, also save money by not having to honour future NHS pay agreements.

While all Frimley workers currently receive salaries based on a national NHS pay deal, after April 2021 those transferred to the trust’s private company won’t be entitled to any pay increases their NHS colleagues receive, despite doing similar jobs.

Staff are concerned that being forced out of the NHS by the trust opens the door to the creation of a two-tier health system based on savage costcutting, rather than patient need, says UNISON.

UNISON South East Regional Secretary Steve Torrance said: “Hard working hospital staff are being thrown to the wolves in order to make up for the crippling underfunding of the NHS. It wasn’t the porters, admin workers or housekeepers who created the problem and we will not stand by while they’re targeted.

“It’s particularly disappointing that the Frimley NHS trust is trying to outsource its staff, especially as it has a history of keeping services ‘in house’ which has helped it to be regarded as a flagship trust.

“UNISON will continue campaigning to keep all workers in healthcare employed directly by the NHS. We will also mobilise our membership in the campaign to protect their terms and conditions.”

Notes to editors:

– Wholly owned subsidiaries – or subcos – are private companies established by NHS trusts. They are not liable for VAT payments in the same way as NHS trusts. This has led to accusations that trusts are using them to avoid paying VAT.
– NHS Improvement is responsible for overseeing foundation trusts and NHS trusts, as well as independent providers that provide NHS-funded care.
– UNISON is campaigning across the country to ensure outsourced health workers don’t lose out when it comes to their pay, terms and conditions. Recent notable successes with winning NHS rates include: catering workers employed by Sodexo at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospital; 50 cleaners, porters, catering and security staff employed by OCS at Liverpool Women’s Hospital; over 330 staff at iFM Bolton, a wholly owned subsidiary.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Liam Kenny M: 07939 583822 E: l.kenny@unison.co.uk

Ryan Slaughter M: 07903 855570 E: r.slaughter@unison.co.uk