NHS staff in charge of procurement for the health service are to go on strike over plans to transfer their jobs into the private sector.
Unison leader, Dave Prentis, told the TUC conference in Brighton that 1,000 workers had voted “overwhelmingly” for strike action following the news that German firm DHL will start supplying goods and equipment to hospitals from October.
Trade unions have launched a joint campaign called “defend the NHS” to stop 1,700 NHS employees from parts of NHS Logistics and the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency being moved to the private sector.
The deal between the government and DHL is worth £22bn over 10 years, with DHL saying it will save the NHS £1bn over the decade.
“These are not trouble makers, not hardliners but workers who care deeply about the NHS, who want to stay part of it, who want to play their part in saving it,Ó Prentis said. “[These are] hardworking public service workers who have never taken action before.”
DHL Logistics chief executive John Allan has defended the decision saying the savings would be fed back into patient care.
“We will be working very closely with clinical specialists – with doctors, with the trusts – to ensure we procure for them precisely the products they want,” he said.