HOSPITAL workers staged a rally in protest of plans by NHS bosses to privatise their jobs – a decision they believe will "put patients' lives at risk".

The East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which runs Colchester Hospital, has announced proposals to no longer directly employ cleaners, porters, caterers, security, and other support staff.

In response to the move, more than 50 workers alongside UNISON bosses protested outside the site, in Turner Road, on Wednesday, while more 100 workers attended a staff meeting with ESNEFT bosses – with there not being enough room for all.

Gazette: Covid - Protesters asked why workers were seen as good enough to be employed directly during the pandemic but not nowCovid - Protesters asked why workers were seen as good enough to be employed directly during the pandemic but not now (Image: Newsquest)

Sam Older, UNISON regional organiser for the East of England, said: “They want to stay members of the NHS, they want to be employed by the NHS and for their future colleagues to be on NHS terms and conditions.

“It looks like ESNEFT is going against the trend, a lot of NHS employers are bringing services back in-house, and we think this is going against the principal 'wind' and what the public don’t want and what our members definitely do not want."

Mr Older added clinical staff supported people “being employed by the same employer” and UNISON know for new hires for private companies they get “lower pay, less annual leave, and less sick pay”.  

Gazette: Appalled - Cleaner Tracy Lavery was appalled about the plansAppalled - Cleaner Tracy Lavery was appalled about the plans (Image: Newsquest)

Cleaner Tracy Lavery is also very unhappy with the decision to outsource jobs.

She said: “We work one pence an hour above minimum wage, we chose to work for the NHS as it actually a nice place where you are proud to work for.

“I could go and work in McDonalds and earn a lot more money like my 18-year-old son is - he’s on £12.72 and I’m on £11.45.”

Tracy added cleaners and other staff “did not sign up to work for the private companies”.

“We’ve been outsourced before, it does not work," she added.

“How many times have we got to do it before it gets through? 

"It’s supposedly a money saving exercise but we are not saving anything by outsourcing, all it does is put patients' lives at risk."

Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, said: “All our facilities colleagues make a massive difference to the experience of patients and staff."

“We are holding a series of briefings, including one at Colchester Hospital on Wednesday 24 April, to discuss how we provide some of our facilities services across ESNEFT in the future."