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by Tom Freeman
25 March 2015
Controversial private contracts renewed by NHS Lanarkshire

Controversial private contracts renewed by NHS Lanarkshire

Hairmyres and Wishaw hospitals will continue to be cleaned and serviced by private companies ISS Healthcare and Serco for the next seven years, NHS Lanarkshire confirmed today.

Unison said the contract will cost the health board £100m and represented “more privatisation” of services, but NHS Lanarkshire insisted it represents value for money.

Colin Sloey, NHS Lanarkshire’s Director of Strategic Planning and Performance said the health board had undertaken “a robust process” which had followed legal guidance. “The re-negotiated settlement will deliver a combined annual saving of £832k per annum for the next seven years which will support the delivery of frontline care in Lanarkshire,” he said.

However Unison argued the contracts, first signed in 2006, prevent competitive bids to bring the services in-house, and it presented a petition with 5,000 signatures to the Scottish Parliament last week asking for the contracts to be returned to the public sector.

Lilian Macer, UNISON chairwoman NHS Lanarkshire said it was an example of private companies profiteering from the NHS. “This is a bad decision for patients in Lanarkshire,” she said.

Staff employed by the private companies receive Agenda for Change terms and conditions which apply to NHS staff, subsidised by the Scottish Government, but are excluded from the NHS Pension Scheme. 

NHS Lanarkshire chief executive Calum Campbell said he would be willing to work with staff to look for “contractual amendments” in advance of the next service review in seven years’ time.

“We recognise and appreciate the disappointment of staff side representatives and local and national politicians that the current existing contracts do not directly facilitate the ability to bring Soft FM services in-house,” he said.

Both hospitals have action plans in place following recommendations from the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate after inspections found some unacceptable levels of cleanliness on wards in recent months.

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