NHS IT staff at Warwick Hospital will strike for four days over plans to move them to a private company

Union representatives say this amounts to privatisation, because the staff will no longer be employed by the health service

NHS IT staff at Warwick Hospital will strike for four days from tomorrow (Tuesday).

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NHS IT staff at Warwick Hospital will strike for four days from tomorrow (Tuesday).

The action comes after their employers at the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust plan to move around 150 IT staff to a new private company, Innovate Healthcare Services.

The union UNISON, which represents the workers, says this amounts to privatisation, because the staff will no longer be employed by the health service.

The IT workforces at Warwick Hospital and George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton are scheduled to be transferred to the company on December 1.

UNISON says it has proposed several alternative positions to the employers, including options that preserve their status in the NHS.

The workers will strike tomorrow and Wednesday this week, with further action on November 23 and 24.

UNISON regional organiser Mike Wilson said: “Like many of their colleagues in healthcare, these staff actively chose to work for the NHS to serve the public. And they’ve done so through the toughest of times during the past few months of the pandemic.

“Now their employers have turned round to say they don’t want them and are forcing them to become a kind of private contractor.

“It’s not too late for these trusts to reconsider their position and work with the union to find a fair compromise.”

Chief executive of George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, Glen Burley, said:” George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust are in the very unique position, as neighbours and members of the Foundation Group, both organisations face similar challenges and have a shared vision. The purpose of bringing the ICT functions together is to enhance the ability to share best practice, develop skills to strengthen our services, whilst taking advantage of opportunities that would not be possible otherwise.

“Moving both teams into a wholly owned subsidiary company, Innovate Healthcare Services, provides the best protection from external providers and keeps staff within the NHS family. It will enable us to invest in our teams and infrastructure and we will also look at growing the workforce to offer services to other public sector organisations and creating new income streams, all of which would be re-invested back in to the NHS.

“As a subsidiary company staff play a big part in shaping the future of the company and its services. All staff will be transferred on their existing terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are not time limited and will be indefinitely protected for all staff transferring.

“Throughout all stages of this process we have worked closely with Union representatives to address their concerns and we are having on-going conversations regarding arrangements with them post transfer. We are therefore disappointed that they have proposed industrial action. We will be working hard to ensure there is minimal impact on services or additional pressure on staff during these periods.”