Unions attack supermarket check-up plan

Health service unions have attacked government plans to allow supermarkets and other retailers to employ nurses and healthcare professionals.

The government’s new health White Paper, published last week, suggested a ‘check-up at the checkout’ scheme as a way to provide more accessible primary care.

It envisaged health centres in supermarkets employing doctors, nurses and other specialists, and staying open late at night to enable patients to see a doctor without having to take time off work.

It is not yet clear whether workers would be directly employed by the retailer or remain with the NHS. But Unison, the biggest health service union, said it didn’t want private sector involvement in NHS services.

A spokeswoman said: “It would create instability in the system and is not the way forward. The only reason supermarkets will want to do this is to boost their profits.”

She said the government should concentrate on increasing investment in preventative measures and better occupational health services in the workplace.

Large supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s already have in-store pharmacies and provide a range of services such as health MoTs and diabetes and cholesterol testing.

NHS Employers will be “looking closely” at the implications for staff and employers of services being provided by non-NHS organisations.

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