Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Weston Area Health Trust to look at NHS Only Partners - UNISON Press Release

The following has been issued as a press release today:


Members of North Somerset UNISON working at Weston General Hospital are over the moon today at the news that the hospital has decided to stop its search for a private partner, and instead look at merging with another local NHS Trust or be taken over by a local NHS Foundation Trust. North Somerset UNISON spokesperson Helen Thornton said: “We think this is a triumph for common sense, as well as the huge opposition locally to a private company running our local hospital. Since the procurement process started just over a year and a half ago, members of North Somerset UNISON along with members of the local campaign group Protect Our NHS have campaigned against Weston Hospital being run by a private company, because we believe that NHS services should be run by the NHS and not by private companies who put profit before people. Local opposition to the privatisation of Weston Hospital has been huge. Our local paper ran an online poll asking readers whether they wanted their hospital run by a private company – the response was an overwhelming No. Members of the Weston Hospital Campaign group have been out on the streets and collected hundreds of signatures from people who oppose the privatisation of our NHS. The Hospital Campaign group has also raised issues in the media around the transparency of the process, and the potential conflict of interest of some of those involved. We have always believed that if local people come together to protest against something that they believe is wrong, that they can have an impact – today’s announcement proves us right. Those that say that people don’t care who NHS services are run by as long as they are free at the point of use are wrong – people want their NHS services to be provided by the NHS.”

Helen continued: “Although we are pleased by today’s announcement, we cannot understand why the hospital didn’t choose to make it an NHS only procurement process right from the beginning, and we wonder what the cost of the process has been so far – money which could have been better spent providing essential services. It is also our view that this morning’s statement by that hospital that in their words it is their “belief, shared by local commissioners and the NHS TDA… that ‘NHS Only’ will keep our improved performance trajectory on track and maintain high levels of clinical and patient care. Looking to the long-term future it’s also the best option to provide sustainable services for the local population and our staff who care for them” is a damning indictment of private sector provision of NHS services.”

“Staff at Weston General Hospital have been working with this cloud hanging over them for almost 2 years. The uncertainty over who would run the hospital has also negatively impacted on the recruitment of new staff. As a result we are pleased that the hospital’s Chief Executive has given credit to staff who have worked so hard, and under such difficult circumstances to deliver major improvements at the hospital. In our view this also demonstrates that the NHS doesn’t need private sector involvement to improve.”

“As far as UNISON is concerned we now want to engage in the process, which will see a shortlist of bidders being put together by July, with a preferred bidder selected by October, and the formal process of either a merge or takeover, including staff transfer, completed by April 2015.”

The news is also on UNISON's national website:

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