Magazine article Public Finance

Unions to Fight Privatisation of NHS Supplies

Magazine article Public Finance

Unions to Fight Privatisation of NHS Supplies

Article excerpt

Trade unions have vowed to fight the government's plan to outsource more than 1,650 jobs and responsibility for 25% of the NHS's non-pay spend to the German-based delivery firm DHL.

The Department of Health's new contract with DHL was announced on September 5 and will take effect on October 1.

DHL will create NHS Supply Chain to manage the purchasing and supply of up to £3.7bn of NHS equipment and consumables such as bandages and hospital food. The function is currently provided inhouse by NHS Logistics and the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency.

Unison has already balloted its 1,000 affected members on strike action and expects to announce the result at the Trades Union Congress conference next week.

Karen Jennings, Unison's head of health, said: 'Why break up a winning team like NHS Logistics and sell it off to a German parcel company? It makes no sense when there is no doubt that [it] is an NHS success story. We will fight to keep these jobs in the NHS.'

A leaked memo to Labour backbenchers from Health secretary Patricia Hewitt's specialist advisers, seen by Public Finance, stated: 'The unions have seen the full business case, with the exception of commercially sensitive financial figures. …

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