UNISON is calling on the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS trust to halt its plans to hand hundreds of NHS staff over to a wholly owned subsidiary company.
The call came as union members made their “anger, worry and disappointment” clear in a meeting with the union and Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald.
The trust’s plans involve transferring around 600 members of staff, including maintenance workers, porters, housekeepers and caterers, to a private company it has set up, called Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Estates FM Ltd.
But at a standing-room only meeting today, the workers said the plans leave them feeling undervalued and worried about their future.
Many of the workers who face being transferred out of direct NHS employment have worked for the health service for more than 20 years, but now feel both worried and upset.
“Listening to the anger, worry and disappointment of staff today really sent home a loud message that the trust needs to halt these plans immediately,” said UNISON Northern regional secretary Clare Williams.
The union has written to the trust, along with local Labour MPs from the Tees Valley, calling for an end to the proposals.
The letter warned that privatisation does not work in the interest of patients or staff, and cited the recent collapse of Carillion.
Labour MP Andy McDonald addressing the meeting
The letter also asked what message the trust was sending to some of the most lowest paid staff if it was prepared to cast them out of the NHS family?
The union has launched a petition urging the trust not to go ahead with the privatisation, which has already been signed by staff and local people.
Further meetings with staff will take in the next few weeks ahead of a trust board meeting on 25 September.
“Staff should remain as part of the NHS One Team and not be hived off,” added Ms Williams. “We have heard their views and UNISON will give our full support to this campaign. We call on the trust to urgently reconsider.”
Mr McDonald told today’s packed meeting: “I am pleased to be able to show support to the staff and, along with fellow Labour MPs, will continue to urge the trust to abandon these plans as they are not good for patient care or the staff providing services.”
UNISON Tyne, Esk and Wear valleys health branch secretary John Malcolm summed up the meeting as “a clear indication of members’ anger and upset. We welcome the support of local Labour MPs to our campaign and call on the trust to listen to the strongly held views of their staff.”