Trade union members plan to rally over Harrogate NHS Trust company

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Trade union members will rally outside Harrogate District Hospital against plans to transfer over 300 staff members to a new commercial arm of the NHS Trust.

The joint trade unions of UNISON, GMB and Unite have planned to hold a rally on Lancaster Park Road tomorrow, Thursday, March 1.

If not cancelled as result of the snow, it will be the first demonstration against the plans by Harrogate District NHS Foundation Trust to move staff to a wholly-owned subsidiary company.

The company, Harrogate Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd, will take responsibility for the up-keep of the Trust’s estates and facilities.

No clinical staff have been affected whatsoever, but porters, catering and domestic services staff are all included in the transfer.

North Yorkshire’s Area Organiser for Unison, Sarah Keig, said: “Sadly after months of trying to negotiate with the Trust they continue to ignore the will of their staff and are transferring members out of the NHS this Thursday.

“As well as representatives from the trade unions we are also hoping that members of the public, local patient groups and the Labour Party will join us.

But the Trust has defended the plans consistently explaining that current staff will be able to retain NHS employment conditions.

Robert Harrison, Chief Operating Officer at HDFT, said: “Throughout this process we have engaged very closely with our members of staff affected by the establishment of the new subsidiary company, and their trade union representatives.

“We have recognised that this has been a time of change for staff, and that’s why we closely involved them along the way. This has included joint staff engagement events with our trade union colleagues, as well as one-to- one support and guidance.

“As previously explained, on transfer on 1 March 2018, current staff will retain their NHS terms and conditions, or if they prefer, they can choose to move to new term and conditions offered by the company.

“The new company will be modernising pay, terms and conditions for new staff, which will ensure that it is competitive in the local employment market.

“This new arrangement brings with it financial benefits for the Trust, which means we are better able to remain financially sustainable and continue to provide high quality services for patients.”

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was chosen by NHS England to provide the new service for the North.

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Off-duty staff have been asked to help aid the shortfall as many clinical employees struggle to get to work.

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