Union calls for staff ballot on social enterprise plan

Staff at a Surrey PCT should be balloted over proposals to hive off NHS services into a social enterprise, according to union Unite/CPHVA.

Staff at a Surrey PCT should be balloted over NHS proposals

The call to Kingston PCT follows the announcement by the DoH that the NHS should be the ‘preferred provider' of choice.

Unite describes social enterprises as commercial organisations which can win and lose contracts to provide services to the NHS. It fears social enterprises may have to pay VAT, a tax from which the NHS is exempt.

Peter Storey, Unite's regional officer, said: ‘It is clear that social enterprises are a leap in the dark in terms of provision of services; the employment conditions and pensions of NHS staff that could be severely eroded, or even lost; and the viability of the financial model proposed, if VAT is charged on its services.

‘You could get a situation where a visit by a health visitor to a young mum suffering from postnatal depression will result in the organisation having to pay VAT when it comes to internal accounting. That is unacceptable.'

Siobhan Clarke, managing director of provider services at NHS Kingston, said: ‘We have an amazing opportunity to develop high quality community services for local people in line with the DoH's priorities. Everything that we have done so far has been in partnership with staff and their union representatives and staff have embraced this change which will benefit the patients and service users.

‘We aim to keep the same, or even better, terms and conditions for staff and, just as with GPs and hospital staff, we will still continue to be part of the NHS family. Any surplus generated by the social enterprise will be invested back into services. Tax payers deserve the best - and this is a way of securing the best local resources for local people.'

Neil Durham

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