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Royal Cornwall Hospital: Job Privatisation Plans

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5:40am 29th November 2013
(Updated 5:40am 29th November 2013)

Plans have been revealed to privatise 450 jobs at Cornwall's main hospitals.

Bosses at the Royal Cornwall are discussing whether to contract out so-called 'hotel services' such as catering, cleaning, portering and housekeeping.

UNISON, Cornwall's largest Health Service Trades Union, is calling on the board of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust to withdraw proposals to privatise its support services and to work with the union to retain the work "in house".

UNISON claims that the board of RCHT plans to privatise over 450 essential front line jobs at hospitals across Cornwall. The jobs involved include catering, housekeeping, cleaning, portering, waste, switchboard and many other vital front line services.

A UNISON member affected by the transfer said: "We all feel completely betrayed and let down by the trust, this is a real "kick in the teeth". We have worked hard for years to save the trust money and are very proud of the high standards we keep to support patients, there is no loyalty any more. Its like we are being "sold" to the cheapest bidder. This is modern day Slavery being bought and sold, so they can cut the pay and conditions we have fought so hard for over the years. I'm disgusted!"

UNISON claims that the RCHT has the most efficient and cost effective service in the NHS in the South West and that any reductions in service would directly affect patient care and threaten the current high standards.

UNISON has commissioned an independent report which has highlighted that the costs for support services in Cornwall are in many cases half those of other comparable trusts, whilst the standard and quality of services are amongst the highest in the region.

Speaking prior to the Trust board meeting, UNISON Regional organiser, Christine Dayus, said: "We have a really excellent service here in Cornwall which has exceedingly high quality and some of the lowest costs anywhere in the region. We believe that there are further savings which can be made and we have offered to work with the Trust to maximise this.

"They seem hell bent on privatising these critical front line services. They risk jeopardising the excellent service and also undermining the Trust bid for Foundation Trust status. The track record of the private sector in these services is very poor and it is not rational to ditch an already excellent service to make profits for private companies and at the same time risk failures in infection control and other key areas.

"We are calling on the Trust to stop this madness and enter into sensible discussions with the union and other key partners to avert this tragedy for services."

Chief Executive of the hospital Lezli Boswell said: "The RCHT Board has agreed to move forward and explore whether Hotel Services could be supplied by an external provider in the future. This means that we will now undergo a formal Invitation to Tender to consider alternative service options.

"Our priorities in making a final decision will be to ensure ongoing improvements for our patients, securing additional investment and achieving good value for money for the taxpayer. We will continue to communicate openly with our staff and support them throughout any potential changes."

5:40am 29th November 2013

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