Strike action looms over outsourcing plans by Harrogate NHS Trust

Hospital staff braved the cold weather to protest against their jobs being transferred out of the NHS and into a private company.

Union members gathered at Harrogate and district NHS Foundation Trust on Friday for a rally after bosses pressed ahead with outsourcing plans.

A strike ballot has also been launched over the cost-cutting move, which is opposed by unions including Unison and the GMB.

While existing staff members can keep their current terms and conditions, newly employed people working for Harrogate Healthcare Facilities Management (HHFM) will be on higher salaries but lower sick pay entitlements.

Performance-related pay will also be part of the deal for new employers.

Unions claim it will create a “two-tier” workforce. Unison area organiser Sarah Keig said: “Staff are not against the NHS saving money. But not at their expense.”

Jonathan Coulter, a board member of HHFM, said “Under the new terms and conditions, new starters will receive an increased basic salary compared to NHS terms. Other terms, such as sick pay, will change to allow for this increase in basic salary.

“HHFM will be re-investing profits back into the company, which will include premium payments to staff and performance-related pay. Trade union colleagues were invited to meet and discuss the proposed terms and conditions of service.”

Current staff were transferred to the new firm on March 1.