Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/681/12481
All SET for privatisation?
Chris Moore, Gloucestershire Socialist Party
Outside Stroud general hospital, Gloucestershire, there were angry shouts of 'keep out the private profiteers' from over 100 protesters on 28 July. But the next day, 70 miles away in Taunton, managers from the South West Strategic Health Authority were rubber-stamping plans to move NHS services from seven Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to Social Enterprise Trusts (SETs).
The provision of community, social care, adult, children's, mental health and other services from across the south west from Swindon to the Isle of Scilly is being taken out of the NHS. SETs are run as businesses, despite the 'non-profit' tag.
But after three years, contracts for services will go out to tender and SETs may have to compete with private health multinationals that could easily undercut SETs on price. Entrepreneurship Monitor found that SETs were twice as likely to fail as conventional companies.
Staff will have to leave the NHS and transfer to the SET. Terms and conditions are only safe temporarily, the NHS pension scheme could be affected and nationally agreed pay increases would be lost.
Staff are supposed to be consulted but despite the Unison union's requests, Gloucestershire PCT only conducted a poorly publicised survey not a ballot. Of those who took part, most said they had 'concerns about these plans', but the transfer to the SET was presented as a done deal.
NHS managers are sneaking through these changes, which come into effect on 1 October. Disgracefully there is no obligation to consult the local community.
Our NHS is being privatised behind closed doors. We must fight to save it.
Unison has halted SET transfer in some regions, but needs a national policy backed with the threat of industrial action if necessary.
In The Socialist 3 August 2011:
Fighting the cuts
Opposing the far right
Socialist Party NHS campaigning
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party news and campaigns
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party feature