Unions protest against Gloucestershire trust’s plan to transfer NHS staff to subsidiary company

Spokesperson for Unite says 750 staff will ‘face threats to their employment’

Health trade unions held a protest today at plans by an NHS trust to create a subsidiary company wholly owned by the trust – a move that would lead to 750 staff members being transferred out of the NHS.

Protesters gather outside Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Picture: Stephen Shepherd

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust staff members whose employment is transferred to the new company will no longer be NHS employees, even if they were to be guaranteed the same working conditions.

A number of trusts have already started to transfer NHS non-clinical staff into subsidiary companies, as a means of cutting their VAT costs, recent research published in the Guardian suggests.

The newspaper claims that 19 trusts have transferred non-clinical staff into subsidiary companies, and 16 more trusts have plans to do so. 

Almost 3,000 estates and facilities staff are employed by eight trust-owned subsidiaries, with most employees having transferred from the parent trust.

Nurses were among those to attend the demonstration outside Gloucestershire Royal Hospital at lunchtime today, which comprised members from the RCN, Unison, Unite and the Gloucester and Cheltenham trades councils.

Criticism of ‘two-tier workforce’ plan

Unite regional officer Nick Bailey said the proposals in Gloucestershire would create a two-tier workforce that would ‘erode morale and exacerbate recruitment and retention issues’.

Mr Bailey added: ‘About 750 staff will no longer be part of the NHS, and will face the same threats to their employment, and terms and conditions, that other outsourced staff have already experienced.

‘The trust should follow the example of North Bristol NHS Trust, which rejected a similar plan, following a public outcry.’

Last month Unite wrote to the health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for an immediate moratorium on further private limited companies being established by NHS trusts in England.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it had given written assurances to staff that their existing terms and conditions, including pay and pension rights, would be protected under the changes.

In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.