Online Editions

20th Jun, 2021

Union calls claims IT staff in Warwickshire forced to leave NHS for subsidary 'backdoor privatisation'

Laura Kearns 28th Apr, 2021

CLAIMS have been made some 150 staff are being forced to leave the NHS and work for South Warwickshire Foundation Trust’s private subsidiary company.

The public service union Unison says IT staff at South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) and George Eliot Hospital – which both belong to the same foundation group led by chief executive Glen Burley – have been told they must accept the new contracts or could lose their jobs.

The union claims moving employees to SWFT’s wholly owned subsidiary – which was set up to sell IT services to other NHS organisations – amounts to backdoor privatisation.

West Midlands regional spokesman Mike Wilson said: “The employers have claimed that these dedicated IT staff lack commitment to the health service, but it’s simply not true.

“These workers are just as passionate about the NHS as any member of the frontline clinical staff. They are proud to be playing their part working for the health service and want to stay.

“The creation of companies like this is simply backdoor privatisation. The pandemic has shown how much the public cherish the NHS and all the staff who to deliver its services. The last thing they want to see is for the health service to be broken up.

“Employers must rethink these plans and respect the staff’s wishes to remain as NHS employees.”

SWFT chief executive Glen Burley said: “Non-clinical functions including IT play very important roles in supporting the delivery of NHS services, and these teams show great commitment and dedication.

“George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, who are a part of a Foundation Group, wanted to bring these functions together to work collaboratively. One of the options that was looked into and subsequently approved was to bring the teams together through South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust’s wholly owned subsidiary company.

“As a Foundation Trust, we have the ability to set up wholly owned subsidiaries. These are organisations that NHS providers can legally adopt to manage part of their organisation and it helps us protect essential services from other future efficiency saving options – such as potential outsourcing to private contractors. IT services will remain ‘wholly owned’ by the trust and therefore be part of the NHS family. The company already manages a range of non-clinical estates and facilities services while generating profits to re-invest back into our local NHS.

“Both trusts recognise how important these teams are to the organisations and therefore the key reason for bringing them together under a wholly owned subsidiary is to enable us to take advantage of opportunities that would not be possible otherwise. It will enable us to invest in our teams and infrastructure and we will also look at growing the workforce to offer services to other public sector organisations and creating new income streams, all of which would be re-invested back in to the NHS.

“As a subsidiary company staff play a big part in shaping the future of the company and its services. All staff will be transferred on their existing terms and conditions.”

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