I spoke to Gwen Cross, a worker registered with the National Health Service Professionals, who laments on impending changes in healthcare with a move towards privatisation, which will heavily affect the services of NHSP. NHSP are a public sector agency comprising of trained healthcare professionals who fill in various levels of healthcare assistant roles when hospitals and clinics are short-staffed and is estimated to save the NHS 70 million pounds per year, but this service is being threatened by privatisation.
What is your role in NHSP?
I trained initially in a orthopaedic ward and became a qualified healthcare assistant, and currently work in administration within the company. The mental and physical strain of nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants, especially in the conditions they are forced to work in, deterred me from becoming a healthcare assistant full-time, although I still work some shifts where I am needed to maintain the qualification.
What is the cause and why do you feel so strongly about it?
The service NHSP provides to the NHS has provided a cheap and efficient way of filling gaps where and when needed in wards and practices since 2004. We save them around 70million pounds per year. Profits made are re-invested into the service. However, recently a discussion has arisen that might result in 75% of the shares being sold to private companies, radically reducing NHSP impact and increasing the costs of providing a similar service. NHSP workers were not consulted, and solely a single, vague email was sent to members that did not actually outline any of the changes or provoke any sort of meaningful discussion between NHSP staff and professionals. The Tories did not mention this in their manifesto and seem to be quietly dismantling domestic services and think nobody is paying attention.
What do you fear will happen if action is not taken? What action would you like to carry out going forward to prevent the issue escalating?
This is an example of the issues currently surrounding the NHS; it encapsulates the argument at the moment: the problems the NHS is facing are ideological and have no fiscal basis, contrary to what is being perpetuated. They say we have no money, yet they plough money towards private investors which means paying out more in the long run.
I would like to organise lobbies and demonstrations, where all of those involved and affected by healthcare, including students in healthcare-related subjects, come together and put pressure on local MPs to prevent NHSP being sold off. Our local MPs have yet to respond to emails sent to them, so we need to get their attention.
Do you have any closing thoughts?
This problem is parallel to lots of public services that have previously been or are in the process of being sold off to private investors, an example being East Coast Rail. The domination of Brexit in the press means that many domestic issues are being quietly dealt with, with little discussion and the government do not think people are paying attention, so we need to be kept aware. The crux of the issue is that most of the time it is the most vulnerable patients who are most heavily affected by things like this – those who cannot speak out for themselves in protest are unfairly disadvantaged every time this happens, and we need to be there to provide a voice for them.
Check out the WeOwnIt website for further information https://weownit.org.uk/
Sign the petition to prevent NHSP being sold off here: https://weownit.org.uk/act-now/dont-sell-nhs-professionals
Tweet Gwen @GwenCross if you are interested in getting involved locally