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Helen Dirilen, nursing director at Kingston Hospital, talks to NT about privatisation plans

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A three-minute interview with Helen Dirilen, director of nursing and quality at Kingston Hospital NHS Trust, about plans to privatise the hospital’s elective, theatre and surgical services.

NT: Why are you doing this?

HD: What we have found is that demand for elective surgery is reducing. What we want to do is to maintain the kind of healthcare campus that we have at the moment in the long term.

We want to improve patient experience. The staff affected will be transferred over on NHS terms and conditions and will be managed by the private company but we as an organisation will manage the actual service.’

NT: How will the new arrangements work?

HD: Part of the difficulties we have are that we are in the middle of negotiations that are commercially confidential. We have yet to decide on the final structure.

NT: How many staff are going to be affected?

HD: I really can’t put numbers of staff forward there is a consultation that we will have to do.

If we continue to lose our elective work that will have an impact on our patients and our staff. That will have an impact on the whole of the way the hospital works, including junior doctors’ accreditation. It has an impact all the way.’

NT: When is it going to happen?

HD: Services will have changed by the end of 2008 when we have got final approval for the contract. It will not be a TUPE contract, it will be a Retention of Employment Contract. This means their NHS terms and conditions don’t change at all but means staff will be managed by a private sector provider. It means they will have their terms and conditions maintained, including pension rights.

We had a worldwide response and we have gone through robust procedures reviewing that.

It will cost £1.6m, mainly to legal advisors, project managers and backfill staff. We hope to claw that back over the course of the contract, which will last 10 years.

NT: Unions are concerned that there is a lack of consultation. What’s your response to this?

HD: We are trying to do this in a transparent manner, I do understand staff’s anxieties but we are trying to get the message out that this is about patients and staff.

Interview with Richard Staines

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