GMB fears as Frimley Health Trust using untrained agency workers to cover striking NHS staff

Download as PDF

“The strikes of course can be suspended or stopped at any time by our members but they will require absolute written guarantees that the WOS has been scrapped and that the trust are willing to discuss alternatives”, says GMB Southern

GMB Union members fear patients are being put at risk by Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust as the Trust seek to breech strike laws by gambling with patient safety through the use of untrained or semi trained agency workers and volunteers to cover NHS employees who are taking action to stop the creation of a Wholly Owned Subsidiary (WOS). The creation of the WOS would mean NHS staff would see their jobs and the services they provide transferred to the private sector.

GMB members are still shocked by horror stories and accounts of near misses of potential deadly mistakes by both well-meaning volunteers and/or untrained agency workers being rushed through inductions and security checks to fill in for striking staff during November’s two days of industrial walkouts. These include agency staff leaving cleaning chemicals unattended and decanted in areas open to both the public and patients, and food provided for patients and public not being subjected to the normal rigorous checks required by the Food Standards Agency.

GMB will be taking further direct action along with Unite the Union members by walking out on the 18th, 19th and 20th of December, but are both scheduled to meet formally with the Trust’s CEO Neil Dardis, and Head of HR Janet King before the next round of industrial action in a meeting chaired by ACAS. This is in the hope that some progress might be made in stopping the creation of a WOS across all hospital sites.

Asia Allison, GMB Regional Organiser said: "It’s great that the Trust have finally decided to sit down with both GMB and Unite to discuss the privatisation proposal. The deal both they and Unison seemed to have agreed means nothing to the vast majority of affected staff across the trust and certainly nothing to both the other two unions members at this time. It will be good to hear what the plan is and to compare it to our own, based firstly on the simple principle of Stop The WOS.

"In the event the strikes go ahead we will also be seeking assurances that GMB members and striking staff will not face the intimidation from bullying management photographing, threatening and then lying to staff about their rights to take action and the consequences on their return to work after this round of three days of action as they have to date."

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser said: "The strikes of course can be suspended or stopped at any time by our members but they will require absolute written guarantees that the WOS has been scrapped and that the trust are willing to discuss alternatives meaningfully before doing so I’m sure.

"In the anticipation though that they won’t, we fully expect the trust to ensure patients safety during the dispute. The illegal use of private security, either covering up their own company logos or using hastily created Trust uniforms to once again interfere with the lawful action of both pickets and demonstrators voicing their views and informing the public of the devastating effects of privatising over 1000 staff, will not be tolerated.

"Members are telling us that the trust have suspended the normal two days of induction processes covering all aspects but including working safely within the hospital, is instead now simply covered by strike breakers being asked to read an A4 piece of paper before signing off that they are trained.

"If only the Trust put as much effort into resolving this dispute as they are in spending large amounts of public monies on seeking to break lawful strike action both financially and physically, then we might just be able to find a way forward which might allow both financial and efficiency savings whilst removing for good the threat of privatisation and transfer out of 1000s plus staff. Otherwise industrial action will continue for the foreseeable future and further strike dates issued shortly."


Contact: Asia Allison 07813 541930 or Gary Palmer 07552 165950 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114762