150 GMB members employed by Carillion at Great Western NHS Hospital in Swindon are to ballot for strike action over bullying, harassment and discrimination by their management.
They work as porters, theatre technicians, in catering and cleaning, and other support roles in the hospital.
The 400-bed hospital, run by Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust, was one of the first to be built under PFI at a cost of £148m, with Carillion as the lead contractor, and opened in 2002 to replace the services previously provided at the Princess Margaret Hospital, which had served the town since 1959.
Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional officer, said: ‘GMB members at the hospital had a private meeting with Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, when he visited them at hospital on Monday.
‘He was told of the myriad problems members are experiencing at the hands of managers of Carillion.
‘He was told that these problems have as their root the PFI contractor’s failure to deal properly with concerns over holiday arrangements, shift arrangements and general consultation with the staff.
Instead, they face a culture of bullying, harassment and discrimination.
‘They asked that their concerns be reported to the Central Executive Council (CEC) of the union so that they could be given authority to ballot for strike action to get the problems addressed.’
Speaking after his meeting with members, Kenny said: ‘There is no place in a modern health service for bullying, harassment or discrimination. Either the Trust takes action about this or the union members will.’
l Lawrence Buckman, the chairman of the BMA’s General Practitioner Committee (GPC) has advised GPs to form up into huge Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) under the new Health and Social Care Bill.
Buckman wrote to all GPs on December 8th, telling them to form up into CCGs covering populations the size of a Primary Care Trust (PCT) or PCT cluster. This would mean covering a population of one to five million.
Up till now the advice of the BMA’s GPC was for GPs to form into Commissioning Groups with populations of up to 500,000.
The reason Buckman gives for the change in advice, is that BMA Council has altered its position on the Health Bill and now opposes the Bill in its entirety.
He reminds GPs that after 2016, commissioning support for CCGs will be done by large commercial organisations. This is put forward in the government’s recent draft ‘Developing Commissioning Support – Towards Service Excellence’.
He says ‘We are still working to change this policy’, while proposing a whole raft of plans to make CCGs work.
Moreover, he warns the timescale is ‘tremendously challenging’ and authorisation for establishing CCGs is by Summer 2012.
He says: ‘There is now a small but critical window of opportunity for GPs to seize the initiative to influence and determine what is evolving locally.’
His main argument is that if GPs themselves set up these huge CCGs, they will have sufficient funds to be able to employ their own commissioning staff, and will not be dependent on multinational companies to do it for them.
The BMA would better serve its members, if instead of continuing to do the government’s work for it, it began organising alongside all TUC and non-TUC trade unions for national action to smash the Health and Social Care Bill and to defend its members’ pensions.