The government will spend more than £850 million in redundancy payments to NHS managers and staff to pave the way for the privatisation of the health service, the Unite union said yesterday.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, has repeatedly warned that the Health and Social Care Bill was an ‘open sesame’ to private health care companies – which the government would pay handsomely to implement.
In an answer to a parliamentary question, minister of state for health, Simon Burns, revealed that the cost for redundancy payments for the 152 primary care trusts (PCTs) and 11 strategic health authorities (SHA) came to £852 million.
Simon Burns told Grahame M Morris, MP for Easington: ‘The government estimates the redundancy costs as £768 million for primary care trusts and £84 million for strategic health authorities.’
Unite’s national officer for health, Karen Reay, said: ‘We are not against employees receiving redundancy payments – however, this enormous figure of £852 million is being used to facilitate the takeover of the NHS by private healthcare companies – some of whom are the very companies that have bankrolled the Tories to the tune of £750,000 since David Cameron became leader in 2005.
‘What will be sickening for the hard-pressed taxpayer is that many of these managers, who will be receiving substantial pay-offs, will walk into well-remunerated commissioning jobs with the new GP consortia which are due to take over from the PCTs and SHAs.
‘The whole bureaucratic reorganisation, outlined in the bill, is estimated to cost between £1.5 billion – £3 billion. In this age of grim austerity and daily cutbacks in services throughout the public sector, the question must be asked: “Is this a good use of public money?”
‘Many organisations, such as the British Medical Association and health charities, have raised serious questions about the bill, and the more the debate rages, the clearer it becomes that health secretary Andrew Lansley’s so-called reforms are based on ideology and not patient care.’