UNISON fights the privatisation of primary care support services

UNISON has renewed its commitment to fighting privatisation in the NHS in the wake of NHS England starting its tendering process for the privatisation of primary care support (PCS) services in England.

This service employs about 1,800 people in offices across England, and the procurement process is now underway in a 10-year, £1billion contract – one of the largest ever tendered in the NHS.

Huge multinational companies like SERCO, G4S, KPMG, Capita – and even arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin – have expressed an interest in the contract.

NHS bodies such as commissioning support units have been blocked from applying and the contract has been devised in such a way that other NHS bodies such as the Business Services Authority just could not take on this service.

NHS England will be shortlisting shortly before Christmas and is due to make a decision on the award of the contract in March 2015. The board of NHS England meets at Leeds on 26 March and UNISON will be lobbying the board against this contract.

We feel that this work should remain within the NHS and not be handed to a huge multinational company to make profit and potentially risk vital services for patients.

Although TUPE would apply, it is also clear that any incoming company would not keep 43 offices open and would drastically cut both offices and staff leading to hundreds of redundancies.

UNISON is lobbying hard to try and prevent this privatisation on such a huge, national scale.

On 11 December, UNISON national officer Nick Bradley wrote to the board setting out the union’s concerns about the process.

Work on an in-house bid has now been shelved, meaning that there is no NHS option being considered at all

Health national secretary Christina McAnea said: “It is nothing short of a major scandal that NHS England is refusing even to consider an NHS option for these services. We have huge multinational  companies desperate to win this contract worth £1 billion over 10 years.

“For there to be no NHS body or in house option just reveals the truth about the agenda of this government, which is running hell for leather in privatising as much of the NHS as they can before the general election in May. We must unite to try to stop this happening.”

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