Huddersfield’s MPs have spoken out over plans to tear up the NHS contracts of hundreds of hospital staff.
The Examiner revealed on Thursday that Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) bosses are proposing to transfer about 380 staff to a new company.
The employees affected work in the estates and facilities teams, mostly cleaners, gardeners, porters and maintenance workers at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Trade unions have claimed the plan is “privatisation” and said CHFT’s company could be sold on, putting staff pay, pensions and working conditions at risk.
CHFT has not explained why it wants to do it, saying only it will “generate income from new sources.”
It says it will set up its own “wholly owned subsidiary” – a limited company run by the hospital, to get around NHS rules.
Colne Valley MP Thelma Walker, whose constituency includes the infirmary, said: “I am deeply concerned that Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust is planning to privatise services involved in health care, through backroom deals.
“There is no need for the trust to be siphoning off teams.
“These plans could pave the way for further privatisation in the future.
“If these measures are financially motivated, the trust could look into alternative means to lower costs, such as reducing their dependency on agency workers.
“When the National Health Service was founded, it was exactly that, a national health service, but we are now witnessing it becoming ever more fragmented. “Decisions are being taken which place the focus on profits, instead of the wellbeing of patients and staff.
“I urge the trust to stop this move, and to work with the trade unions, staff teams and other parties involved, to make sure that patients are being put first in the decision making process.”
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said he was disappointed that hospital bosses were tight-lipped about why they were plotting the move.
“It’s very worrying indeed,” he said.
“We really need to know what is motivating this, what are the reasons for it, why is it happening?
“We know the health service is desperate at the moment.
“Up and down the country hospitals are in trouble.
“A&Es are threatened with closure and, of course, our own hospital is threatened with closure. It’s time for greater transparency.
“The NHS is so precariously balanced, decisions are being forced on people that they wouldn’t otherwise make.”
Natalie Ratcliffe, a Yorkshire health organiser for the union Unison, has told the Examiner that all four acute hospital trusts in West Yorkshire are proposing the same move.
Lesley Hill, director of estates and facilities has told the Examiner that the proposal “is not about privatisation” and has vowed to consult with staff and the unions.