A New Year campaign has been launched by Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, to stop the pathology services in Kent being outsourced to a ‘profit hungry’ private company.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, is concerned that such a move could mean an erosion of pathology services (which analyses blood and human tissue samples) with an adverse impact on patient safety.
Alarm bells started ringing before Christmas when Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust published the range of options which include the possible takeover of the pathology services by a commercial company.
The background is that all pathology services across England will need to consolidate into just 29 networks, which means that the whole of Kent will have one pathology services provider.
Unite regional officer, Kathy Walters said: “The Kent public needs to be fully aware of the possibility of the pathology service being turned into a cash cow for a profit hungry private company.
“Biomedical scientists analyse blood samples and human tissue for patients who could have life-threatening conditions, so it is vital that there should be no erosion of standards.
“This proposed move is compounded by the lack of trained biomedical scientists; recruitment and retention problems; old and outdated equipment; and inadequate IT systems.
“Unite is wholly opposed to outsourcing of NHS jobs and services and will campaign hard against such a flawed option. We are also against any attempt to downgrade staff; and reduce pay and terms and conditions to fund this misguided reorganisation.
“NHS Improvement (NHSI), responsible for overseeing NHS trusts, has said that the changes nationally to pathology services should absolutely not be about saving money, but should be about quality and patient safety.
“NHS bosses in Kent should take serious note of the parameters that NHS has set out for the reconfiguration of pathology services across England.
“Our biomedical scientist members, many of whom are registered with their professional body, the Health & Care Professions Council, have a professional duty to raise concerns about patient safety – and will do so, if the need arises.
“We will not sit idly by while yet another blatant privatisation, which is not in the interests of the people of Kent, moves to the next stage in 2019.”