Danger that mutuals act as trojan horse for privatisation

28/3/09. People Not Profit March in central London.

UNISON is today warning that proposals to let staff run hospitals may sound attractive in theory, but in practice are fraught with pitfalls.  All too frequently the mutuals model is used as a mask for a top-level management buy-out, with little actual staff buy-in.

The union is calling for rigorous and open testing of the pathfinders involved in testing the proposals, to ensure that staff and patients are benefitting from the changes.

Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Health, said:

“There is a very real danger that bringing the mutual model into hospitals will be a Trojan horse for pprivatization  Even in the earlystages mutuals frequently mask top-level buy-outs without any real input orbuy-in from staff.

“While there is a welcome and much needed focus on staff engagement in the report, real engagement and involvement of staff in decisions about howhealthcare is organised should be the norm, but it’s clear that much needs to be done to make this a reality. “

UNISON’s recent ‘post Francis’ survey of branches indicates there is a lot of work still needed to ensure that NHS staff are fully engaged in making services safer for patients.

50% said their employer had not consulted with Trade unions on implementing the Francis recommendations. And 70% said Francis did not feature on local partnership meetings’ agendas.

Ms McAnea continued:

“ The staff survey is a vital tool in gauging the “Health “ of any NHS organisation and must be mandatory for all NHS providers.”