Health secretary must intervene at Homerton Hospital to halt “outrageous” outsourcing deal, says UNISON

Friday 17 July 2020

For immediate release

Health secretary must intervene at Homerton Hospital to halt “outrageous” outsourcing deal, says UNISON

The secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock must intervene to stop a controversial new outsourcing deal at London’s Homerton Hospital, says UNISON in a letter sent today (Friday).

Last month, the hospital trust issued a Voluntary Ex-Ante Transparency (VEAT) notice, allowing it to bypass the competitive-tendering process. It now intends to award a new five-year contract to global outsourcing giant ISS Mediclean.

However, regulations say that a VEAT notice can only be used under certain conditions, which UNISON says haven’t been met.

ISS Mediclean currently provides catering, cleaning, security and portering services at Homerton University Hospital in Hackney.

The company’s workers have provided essential services to the hospital during the pandemic, but earn less than their directly employed NHS colleagues, ​get fewer days annual leave and only statutory sick pay.

The denial of competition in awarding a contract worth an estimated £30m discriminates against possible other bidders, says UNISON, and breaches public contract regulations.

​The ISS deal would allow the trust to lock workers into five years of poor working terms and conditions, says UNISON. Instead unions would like to see the trust take the contract back in-house and return the staff to the NHS.

The trust has cited uncertainties caused by the pandemic as a reason for awarding the new contract in this way.

UNISON London regional secretary Maggi Ferncombe said: “This is an outrageous and blatant attempt to get around the rules. It drives a coach and horses through UK and EU regulations.

“Matt Hancock should put the brakes on this contract until there’s been a full investigation into the issues. Otherwise unions will be forced to make a formal challenge to the awarding of the contract.”

Local MPs Diane Abbott and Meg Hillier have backed UNISON’s calls for any new contract to include conditions ensuring outsourced staff are employed on NHS terms.

Notes to editors:

– UNISON has written to the secretary of state for health and social care. A copy of the letter can be found here.

– UNISON and GMB are both lobbying for the trust to scrap the ISS contract and directly employ staff.

– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, and largest healthcare union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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