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Hospital to privatise its services

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Exclusive Richard Staines

A London hospital is planning to transfer management of its surgical and theatre services over to the private sector, NT has learnt.

Exclusive Richard Staines

A London hospital is planning to transfer management of its surgical and theatre services over to the private sector, NT has learnt.

Kingston Hospital NHS Trust in south London is in advanced talks with an unnamed private company, which is bidding for a £1.6m, 10-year contract to take over management of core services.

This means around 60 nurses will transfer to the private company if the deal gets the go-ahead from the trust’s board in the new year.

Nurses at the hospital have been told to attend a series of meetings that will highlight the ‘changes’ at the trust this week.

But nursing unions are furious at the lack of consultation over the plans. Michael Walker, Unison’s London regional officer, said: ‘So this is the future of the NHS – services being privatised without consultation from a key group of staff.

‘There has been no consultation with staff, no consultation on pay and conditions and no consultation about the company.’

Helen Dirilen, the trust’s director of nursing and quality, told NT that the trust had received ‘worldwide’ interest for the contract.

Nurses who transfer to private sector management will do so on ‘retention of employment’ contracts, she said.

‘This means their NHS terms and conditions don’t change at all but means staff will be managed by a private-sector provider.’

She added: ‘It means they will have their terms and conditions maintained, including pension rights.’

The contract was necessary to maintain service levels because the number of elective cases referred to the hospital had fallen, said Ms Dirilen.

But a nurse at the hospital, who did not want to be named, predicted that colleagues would leave as a result of the contract.

‘You think as a nurse working in the NHS that you are going to be well looked after – but this is not necessarily the case,’ she said. ‘There will be a lot of nurses who decide not to stick around if they are treated like this.’

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