Stop £1bn privatisation – GMB warns against Cambridgeshire sell-off

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A large GMB contingent on the Ealing Save Our Hospitals march in April against the closure of four A&Es in west London
A large GMB contingent on the Ealing Save Our Hospitals march in April against the closure of four A&Es in west London

THE GMB union is calling for an immediate halt to the tendering process for the up to £1bn Cambridgeshire Elderly Care contract.

The union plans to lobby the next meeting of the Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) meeting next Tuesday December 3rd at 1pm in Ely.

The lobby will tell the CCG that the tendering process should be stopped with immediate effect as it is now clear that key information has been withheld.

Established via a Freedom of Information request, this information highlights the secrecy and lack of any meaningful consultation.

The up to £1bn contract was put out to tender in April 2013 by the newly formed CCG following the failure to attain Foundation Trust status.

Steve Sweeney, GMB Regional Organiser, said: ‘At a recent meeting of the Cambridge and Peterborough CCG, GMB were shocked to hear that there had been no discussions with the bidders as to where the burden falls if the successful bidder runs into financial difficulty, nor whether profits will go back into services or to line the pockets of shareholders.

‘This is not an academic issue as events with Southern Cross care homes showed.

‘GMB is concerned that information is being kept from the union and the public in what is the largest procurement process in the NHS to date.’

Calling for an immediate halt to the tendering process, he warned: ‘This is the largest potential privatisation of the NHS to date. It is simply staggering that weeks out from the shortlisting stage the CCG have yet to discuss who will foot the bill if the successful bidder runs into trouble, or whether profits will find their way to shareholders pockets.’

• This Thursday, the GMB will also take part in a lobby over the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn that has recently been taken into ‘special measures’, is facing further funding cuts and is under threat.

The lobby of QEH at the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will take place at 9.30am on Thursday at the Borough Council, Chapel Street, King’s Lynn.

Steve Sweeney, GMB Organiser, said: ‘These are worrying times for people depending on the NHS in this area.

‘Patients face being sent for treatment to either Norwich or Peterborough if services are downgraded, a move which could have life-threatening consequences.

‘GMB are further concerned that the Tory policy of starving the NHS of finances will lead to the privatisation of services, and the Trust has already indicated that it could take advantage of “the evolving private sector market”.’

The GMB also plans to join with the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk in their call for action to improve community support and address the shortage of acute psychiatric beds at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

This mental health Trust is facing budget cuts of 20 per cent by 2016. It has put forward plans to cut up to 20 per cent of inpatient beds to make ends meet.

GMB plan to attend the launch of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk which takes place from 7pm tonight, November 25th, at the Vauxhall Centre in Johnson Place, Norwich.