NHS workers to strike at Frimley and Wexham Park Hospitals

Facilities staff at Wexham Park, Frimley Park and Heatherwood Hospitals have voted in huge numbers to take strike action in an escalation of their campaign to stay in the NHS.

The hospital trust plans to privatise up to 1,000 NHS cleaners, caterers, porters, security and estates staff to a new ‘wholly owned subsidiary’ company early next year. UNISON, the UK’s largest health union, has been campaigning against subsidiaries across the UK believing them to be little more than back-door privatisation of the NHS and a blatant tax-avoidance scheme.

UNISON held a series of public demonstrations against the plans over the summer and early autumn. The union’s campaign has intensified after the trust continually refused to rethink their subsidiary plans in the face of growing internal and external opposition.

UNISON South East regional secretary Steve Torrance said:

“This ballot sends an important and overwhelming message that hospital bosses can’t afford to ignore. The trust must now take staff concerns seriously and work with UNISON to ensure these workers remain directly employed by the NHS.

“Patients rely on good quality cleaning, catering and portering staff and our members play a vital role in providing the excellent care for which Frimley NHS is known.

“These hard-working hospital staff are some of the lowest paid workers in the health service and feel targeted for a quick saving by their employer. They don’t deserve to have their NHS employment status ripped away just so the trust can avoid paying some tax.

“These workers are passionate about the NHS and the care they provide to patients. Staff have demonstrated they will stand against any attempts to privatise their jobs and the ball is now firmly in the employer’s court to resolve this dispute.”

Notes to editors:

  • UNISON’s strike ballot closed today (17 October) with 99% of members voting in favour of industrial action on a 72% turnout.
  • Dates for strike action will be publicised soon.
  • Slough MP Tan Dhesi and various Slough Borough Councillors have also voiced concern about the trust’s plans.
  • UNISON is the UK’s largest union, and the largest union at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, 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:
Kieran Pearson T: 01483 406510 M: 07432 741595 E: k.pearson@unison.co.uk