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More than 500 staff at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust have started a five-day strike following the trust’s ‘reckless’ decision to resort to outsourcing.
Starting today, staff at the WWL trust will strike for five days to protest the trust’s decision to outsource around 900 members of staff, including porters, cleaners and caterers to a wholly-owned subsidiary, WWL Solution.
As 562 members of staff walked out of day one of the strike, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis called the outsourcing move ‘reckless’ and ‘foolhardy’.
Responding to his comments, a WWL trust spokesperson told Healthcare Leader: ‘[We] completely disagree with the statement made by Mr Prentis.
‘The creation of a wholly-owned subsidiary company is a tried and tested model that over 40 NHS Trusts have successfully implemented.’
According to Mr Prentis, staff are striking in objection to the proposals for the third time.
He said: ‘Despite being given every opportunity to step back from the precipice, the trust has recklessly decided to go ahead with an ill-advised plan that’s bad for patients, staff and services.
‘The trust needs to overturn this decision, if senior managers want to avoid further strikes.’
The trust’s board of directors wrote in a statement yesterday that the decision to create WWL Solutions was ‘based on what is best for the staff and patients’ and was taken after ‘carefully’ considering four options – establishing WWL Solutions, outsourcing, reducing headcount or taking no action.
They said: ‘As always, patient safety is our number one priority and this decision protects both the trust’s financial stability and jobs.
‘WWL Solutions will be owned entirely by the trust and we believe this is the best way to ensure we can continue to deliver high quality services.
‘WWL Solutions staff will continue to be part of the WWL family, but creating this wholly owned company places us on a level playing field with the private sector.
‘This means that WWL Solutions can grow by securing new business and providing more opportunities for our estates and procurement staff. It will also generate significant savings for the trust, without affecting the pay, pension or terms and conditions for any of the staff who transfer.
The trust hopes that the move will help save £14.5m this year alone and said that ‘if the planned savings are not generated from WWL Solutions, they would have to have been found in other ways’.