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Union announces protest meetings against ‘privatisation’ plans for Airedale Hospital services

A SERIES of meetings organised by health trade unions will be held at Airedale Hospital to protest against what unions have branded “privatisation” plans at the hospital.

UNISON has met with fellow trade unions, including GMB, UNITE, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the Society of Radiographers, and agreed to break off planned consultation meetings with Airedale NHS Foundation Trust on the plans until staff have expressed their own views through the unions.

The foundation trust’s managers have agreed to go ahead with proposals to create a new subsidiary company to run hospital facilities and procurement services.

Affected staff will include porters, as well as workers in domestic services, laundry, sterile services, telecommunications and housekeeping.

The unions say there has been a lack of detailed information provided to staff and none given to the public about the full implications of these changes.

They say that despite more than 3,000 names being collected in a few days on a petition opposing the changes, the trust board has “completely ignored” public opinion.

Keighley MP John Grogan, who is gathering support in Parliament against the trust’s plan, has warned it would lead to lower pay and worse conditions for new staff.

UNISON Area Organiser Michael Parkinson said: “There is growing public concern about this issue.

“The trust has completely ignored the public and trade unions calls not to go ahead with the plans.

“So we’ve decided to hold a series of our own meetings between now and November 24, so the trust board will see how the staff feel about their disastrous plan.”

UNISON says any new company would only be able to generate profits by cutting the pay and pensions of their staff.

And it is also concerned that the new arrangement will affect staff job security while damaging the ability to recruit and retain staff, so having a negative impact on patient care.

Mr Parkinson said: “The public and the people who run the service have every right to see the full details of this proposal and judge for themselves why it’s really being promoted by the trust.

“By holding mass meetings we’ll help to inform people about this and allow them to form an opinion based on the truth and the facts.”

Stacey Hunter, chief operating officer of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, responded: “Our desire and intention is to continue working with our trade unions, with whom we have a good working relationship.

“We hope we can continue to work together in the best interests of their members and our wider staff.

“We’ve engaged comprehensively with our staff over the last three months, holding information sessions with them during the working day, evenings and at weekends, to make sure everyone has the opportunity to understand what we propose and to ask any questions they may have.

“We recognise the right of the unions to hold these meetings, and encourage any of our staff who have questions to raise them with their union representative, with their line manager, or with a member of our human resources team.”

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