HOSPITAL bosses in south Warwickshire have dismissed claims staff jobs could be under threat.
The South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) has decided to move the IT departments at Warwick and George Eliot Hospitals to a wholly owned subsidiary company.
But trade union, UNISON, claims the move means the terms and conditions staff enjoy at the NHS can be altered after 12 months at the new company.
And union leaders say under employment law, staff could lose their jobs if they do not accept the transfer – with no entitlement to severance pay.
Over 80 per cent of union members supported industrial action with the objective of preserving the ‘NHS status’ of the workforce.
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western said: “I am concerned dedicated NHS staff will be transferred to a private company where their future salary, conditions and protections can be threatened.
“It looks as if employees will have no choice but to accept these terms with a very real prospect their pay and conditions will deteriorate further down the line.
“It is not the sort of management we expect from a public body, and certainly not befitting of our NHS.
“I would like guarantees that the SWFT will engage with unions and staff harmoniously with industrial action potentially on the horizon – with all options left on the table.”
UNISON says the SWFT cannot rule out the sale of the subsidiary company in the future – or the commissioning of its services to other private entities.
But SWFT argued the move meant a more flexible approach and would keep staff within the NHS family.
A spokeswoman responded: “As a foundation trust we have a wholly owned subsidiary company which manages a range of non-clinical estates and facilities services. SWFT Clinical Services Ltd enables us to deliver essential services in a flexible approach, whilst generating profits to re-invest back into our local NHS.
“Before this process started, SWFT set up another subsidiary to explore options for providing more services externally, it was never specifically intended for ICT services but has since become Innovate Healthcare Services, which will deliver these services moving forward.
“The trust is the parent company to both SWFT Clinical Services Ltd and Innovate Healthcare Services, so this model provides protection from external providers and keeps staff within the NHS family.”
The foundation assured it had worked closely with with Union representatives and IT staff, and the dispute had been settled.
The spokeswoman added: “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, which includes retaining their NHS pension. These terms and conditions are not time limited and will be indefinitely protected for all staff transferring.”