Unions slam failing hospitals takeover plan

Health
Secretary Alan Milburn’s plan to allow the private sector to take over
management of the country’s failing hospitals is under attack from unions.

Milburn’s
proposals will see external NHS managers and the private sector invited to take
over the running of poorly-performing hospitals.

The Health
Secretary said the move "is not privatisation in any way, shape or
form", but it has been slammed by unions.

Unison
general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This latest announcement is not a good
idea. It is another case of the department of health being more concerned with
a headline in a newspaper than reforming the NHS. It’s just another diversion –
policy-making on the hoof without any evidence.”

John
Edmonds, general secretary of the GMB union, also attacked the move: "This
shows  ministers are not prepared to
listen to reason and are intent on forcing through backdoor privatisation of
the NHS," he said.

"It is
staggering that at a time when the failure of rail privatisation is there for
all to see, the government is intent on making the same mistake with our
hospitals. The last thing the public wants is to see the NHS turn into a new
Railtrack."

Also under
the scheme, top hospitals are to be rewarded with greater control over their
affairs – including the right to set staff pay rates.

Managers of
these hospitals will be allowed to set up not-for-profit companies which will
be given cash based on performance.

By Quentin Reade

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