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Date 09 January 2007

Private GP practice will make Lanarkshire private sector ‘jam pot' - UNISON

UNISON, the largest health service union in Lanarkshire has written to the NHSLanarkshire Board urging them not to proceed with the bid for the Harthill GP Practice bid from SERCO. If successful this would be the first GP practice in Scotland to be run by a private company rather than doctors.

Lanarkshire is already second in Scotland in the amount of money paid to the private sector for health facilities. In a letter to the NHSLanarkshire Chief Executive, Tim Davison, UNISON also points out that, while SERCO, the company bidding for the Harthill GP Practice is seeking to grow its size and profitability and achieve FTSE 100 listing, there are concerns over the likely quality of service.

Official data released under Freedom of Information shows that Kernow Urgent Care services, Cornwall's out-of-hours service owned by SERCO, is missing almost all of its targets. The company has only met the required standard five times out of forty-nine in the last seven months.

John Gallacher, UNISON's Regional Officer for NHSLanarkshire said "With an annual payment of £42.7m going to privately-funded healthcare projects in Lanarkshire NHSL is fast becoming the private sector ‘jam pot' of Scotland.. Much of this public money is diverted to private companies' shareholders in dividend payments instead of being invested in improved public services.

"Preventative care strategies and integrated care in the community cannot be subject to the vagaries of profit motivation, but demand the highest standards of public sector investment. This cannot be achieved by siphoning off public monies to pay private dividends.”

The annual cost of privately run healthcare is £42.7m in Lanarkshire, second only to Lothian(£47.9m) and contrasts with Glasgow and Clyde's £5.9m. Part of the Scottish total of £110.8m. Figures- University of Edinburgh, Centre For Int. Public health Policy.

Lilian Macer, UNISON's Lanarkshire Health Branch Chair said "UNISON supports the call by sixteen senior local doctors for a moratorium on private sector investment in NHS Scotland until there is a full public policy debate. We call on the Board to reject any consideration of this further level of privatisation in Lanarkshire.”

Mary Samson, UNISON's Lanarkshire Health Branch Secretary said "To introduce market forces into the provision of primary care services to the most vulnerable in one of the ailing parts of Scotland is anathema to health service staff. We would expect senior officials and Board members of NHSL to share this view and to abandon this latest privatisation plan.”

UNISON is also currently challenging the extension of the ISS Sub-contract at the PFI hospital at Hairmyres by negotiation. This will see an automatic increase of 19% per annum on the price until 2015.


For Further Information Please Contact: John Gallacher (Regional Organiser) 07904 342 426 (m) Lilian Macer (Branch Chair) 07986 255 956 (m) Mary Sampson (Branch Secretary) 01698 276291(o) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)