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11 July 2018

NHS Leeds: Campaigners halt outsourcing... for now

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Campaigners had a big reason to be cheerful at the events marking the 70th anniversary of the NHS in Leeds. The trust at Leeds Teaching Hospitals had announced that they "will not be transferring any staff into a wholly-owned subsidiary during the financial year to March 2019."

This is the second time the trust has delayed making a decision on establishing the subsidiary, following its earlier decision at a special meeting this March to have further consultations.

That consultation has seen staff opposition, including a Unison strike ballot. Unfortunately, it failed to reach the Tories new 50% membership threshold, but showed strong opposition with 90% of those who voted agreeing to strike action. A re-balloting of certain sections of staff would have, in all likelihood, produced a successful strike vote. Unite the union were also preparing for a strike ballot.

Socialist Party members have collected thousands of signatures opposing the establishment of a wholly-owned subsidiary in Leeds, as well as taking the campaign of opposition into the wider trade union movement.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals is not a semi-autonomous Foundation Trust and therefore has to seek permission from the government to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary. With no timetable for this at present, the trust's decision also represents an attempt to kick the can down the road.

John Ingleson, chair of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Unison branch said: "We know there will be many more challenges in the future and we will not be taking our eyes off the ball. But for now the branch is breathing a sigh of relief. We are sending out a huge thank you to all members involved in raising these concerns, and also to the good people at Keep Our NHS Public and Leeds TUC who helped raise the public profile of the campaign."