UNISON wins insourcing of Serco staff at University Hospital, Wishaw

Leading public sector union UNISON has won a major victory in the fight to end outsourcing of hospital services to profit-driven private contractors and bring them back in-house to the NHS.

The UNISON campaign has led to NHS Lanarkshire announcing it will take over the contract for cleaning, catering, portering and security services at University Hospital, Wishaw from private contractor Serco.

It means the jobs of 400 workers, many held by traditionally low-paid, part-time workers, many of them women, will transfer from private contractor Serco to NHS Lanarkshire later this year. There will be no job losses.

The Lanarkshire Health branch of UNISON has been running a “PFI bleeds the NHS dry” campaign to end profit-motivated private contracts providing public services at NHS hospitals at public expense. A similar contract is in place at University Hospital Hairmyres in East Kilbride which is currently held by ISS. The campaign continues to transfer that contract to the NHS.

Lilian Macer, Convener of UNISON Scotland, said: “This is a major success in the union’s campaign to end all outsourcing of NHS contracts putting an end to a two-tier workforce at the Wishaw hospital. It will be better for the workers, their future pensions, the community, the NHS, and the local economy. Workers will now have equal terms to their NHS colleagues and there will be no job losses.

“UNISON has a long-standing policy of seeking to return service provision to the direct control to NHS Lanarkshire at both Wishaw and Hairmyres hospitals and to remove the private sector, Serco at Wishaw and ISS at Hairmyres. Through our campaign we lobbied NHS Lanarkshire and Scottish Government and we have been successful at Wishaw. The health board has endorsed a strategic direction which seeks to promote well-being and tackle inequalities for our local population as well as delivering the very best healthcare possible within available resources.

“UNISON presented the case that recognised the transfer of services in house through a contractual buy out could deliver a number of benefits and facilitate the implementation of the health boards health inequalities agenda.

“The UNISON Lanarkshire Health branch campaign will continue to ensure that staff on the Hairmyres site are not left behind and we will not stop our campaigning agenda with the health board and Scottish Government until we remove the private sector and staff are directly employed by NHS Lanarkshire.

Katrina Murray, chair of UNISON’s Lanarkshire health branch, added: “We are delighted at the outcome and want to thank our members and everyone who supported our campaign over the years. We have seen too many examples of these private profit-driven companies charging the NHS exorbitant rates for additional services when the real cost is a fraction of the price. There is no room for profiteering at the expense of the NHS. It’s time to get rid of these contractors once and for all.”

For further information:

Danny Phillips / Trisha Hamilton, UNISON Scotland communications officers, m. 07944 664 110 / 07943 507 307