THE “expanding tentacles” of NHS privatisation are putting flagship pathology services in London in jeopardy, union Unite warned yesterday.
Morale has plummeted among Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust pathologists, with workers suffering excessive workloads, skeleton weekend staffing and delays in processing patient samples, according to their union.
And the part-privatised Viapath group, a partnership made up of the trust and privateer Serco operating at King’s College, Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospitals in London and nearby Bedford Hospital, has been faced with chronic staffing and retention problems.
Staff can often find better pay in the private sector and are seeing the public service ethos of the their work undermined by Serco, which is notorious for sponging millions off the taxpayer in contracts across the NHS, prisons, transport and other public services.
Unite now fears an attack on staff terms and conditions if hospital bosses go ahead with plans to transfer staff from the NHS to Viapath in January.
Unite officer Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “The expanding tentacles of NHS privatisation, spearheaded by Serco, are having an adverse impact on the world-class pathology service at Guy’s and St Thomas’s.
“There have been cases of people leaving as part of ‘natural wastage’ and either not being replaced, or replaced by those with lesser skills — this can’t be good for overall patient care.”
The union said management has taken a more positive approach to negotiating with reps since it lobbied the trust’s board last month.