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Date: 16 May 2006

Outsourcing health contract is slap in face for key healthcare staff - UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's Healthcare Union today criticised the decision announced by NHS Forth Valley to use the controversial Private Finance Initiative to fund the new Acute General Hospital in Larbert.

UNISON is particularly concerned at the decision to award the contract for support services, cleaning, catering, portering, and linen services etc to private sector providers Serco.

UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Health, Glyn Hawker said "After all the financial scandals that have dogged the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary PFI, and the service delivery problems that have beset schools across Scotland, not to mention the danger of clinical decisions being taken on the basis of having to justify PFI contracts in Lanarkshire, it is deeply disappointing that the NHS is again going to make the expensive mistake of going down the PFI route.

Stevie Hamill UNISON's Assistant Branch Secretary said "This is a real slap in the face for our support staff members who only recently have been commended by Forth Valley Health Board for their efforts in dealing with major service change. The Board talk about partnership working but our members today are asking us why they have been so easily sidelined by their management partners.

"These are the same staff who have won national awards for catering and cleaning standards in the last year, now they're being sold off to the private sector. It's privatisation by another name.

Stevie concluded, "Commercial confidentiality excuses have meant that up to now we only have limited information about this process and the reasons for the decision but UNISON will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to have this decision revisited.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Glyn Hawker (Scottish Organiser - Health) 0845 355 0845(w) 07958 120 625(m) John Fair (Regional Organiser) 0845 355 0845(w) 077718 929 023(m) Stevie Hamill (Assistant Branch Secretary 07724 242 974(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

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