Chief executive defends Warwick Hospital’s ‘worrying’ partnership with private provider

A MOVE that will see Warwick Hospital services run by a private company has been criticised by employees who are worried about how they will be affected.

Ian Ramsey, steward for the Coventry and Warwickshire branch of Unison, representing staff at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust - which runs the hospital, claimed there was “no prior consultation” about a partnership with Serco, which the trust announced last week.

He said: “This is very worrying news for everyone in Warwickshire. We have all been taken aback at the trust’s move to form a partnership with a private company.

“There are many unanswered questions and areas of concern. Everyone is concerned about the impact on the provision of healthcare in our community and our members are worried about how this will affect their jobs and livelihoods.”

Mr Ramsey also expressed reservations about Serco, referring to an investigation by the Guardian newspaper which reported that the firm had presented false data to the NHS on the performance of its out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall.

But the trust’s chief executive Glen Burley said that meetings with staff had been held about the planned partnership, during which they were given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the matter.

He said: “There are no employees affected by this at the moment as we have not signed any contract or identified any services.

“In line with our normal approach, any areas affected by change will of course be fully involved in helping to put together the solutions and test new ideas or technology.”

But he added: “This partnership is not about job cuts, but we cannot hide from the fact that the NHS faces a tremendous challenge over the next few years – more patients, sicker patients, less money.

“So we are duty bound to achieve best value and to squeeze every penny we can out of support services and into frontline care.

“If Serco can prove that they can help us meet this challenge and our quality expectations, or demonstrate that they can help us improve patient care further, we will work with them to ensure that we continue to deliver high quality healthcare services for our local population.”

Mr Burley said the trust will run workshops to examine how it can work with Serco to make such improvements and savings, for example by managing long-term health problems in patients’ homes to relieve pressure on the hospital.

He added: “It is not for us to comment on the situation in the south west. We will complete our own evaluation of any partner we work with on a case by case basis.”