Nurses and midwives working for an acute trust in the South West are opposing what they claim is a plan to “privatise” NHS nursing provision.
North Bristol Trust is planning a new health and social care centre. It has invited bids from organisations interested in providing nursing care in an arrangement believed to be one of the first of its kind.
The facility, which will also be built and owned by the private sector, will comprise a nursing home plus 68 community hospital beds. One nursing team would work across the whole centre. The idea is the trust will be able to make use of nursing home beds, for example to reduce delayed discharges.
Nursing Times understands none of the bidders currently shortlisted by the trust as potential providers of nursing care are NHS organisations although that could change.
Pam Ward, a midwife and the trust’s joint union committee secretary, said: “This will mean that nursing staff would, within this facility, be employed by the private sector, nursing NHS patients.
“Assuming that the quality of care is maintained to a high standard, profits can only be achieved by reducing the terms and conditions of these staff working for them. We feel that this is yet another attempt to privatise the NHS and to put vulnerable patients in the care of profit orientated companies.”
Trust director of projects David Powell told Nursing Times the intention was not to transfer existing trust staff to the new centre, as it was an additional facility that would provide non-acute care.
He said: “This is something new. We see it as a sister service to our main provision.”