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Council leader enters row over hospital plans

‘Significant concern’ has been expressed by Slough Labour Group over plans which could see some staff at Wexham Park Hospital lose their status as NHS workers.

The Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust wants to transfer staff in non-clinical support services, such as portering, housekeeping and security, to a new company.

The plans for the subsidiary, which would be wholly owned by the trust, have been criticised as ‘creeping towards privatisation’, with campaigners arguing it will create a two-tier workforce.

Now the leader of Slough Borough Council Cllr James Swindlehurst has publicly stated his concerns about the plans.

Cllr Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) tweeted: “We recognise and share the hospital’s commitment to ensuring high quality patient care but we are concerned that the recruitment of new staff into this subsidiary company at lesser pay rates and conditions than existing employees transferred over, risks either the permanent creation of a two-tier workforce or future harmonisation of all company employees’ conditions in a downward direction.”

Cllr Swindlehurst added that, while he accepted statutory

consultation could not take place while the plans are under consideration by NHS Improvement, an informal consultation should have been carried out earlier.

Last month, Neil Dardis, chief executive of the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, told members of Slough Borough Council’s health and scrutiny panel that the move could save the organisation £45 million over the next five years.

Cllr Wayne Strutton (Haymill and Lynch Hill), Conservative Group leader on the council, told the Express: “Frimley, on the whole, has seen a drastic improvement in quality of service and improvement in staff morale.

“If this helps to continue that improvement, that’s terrific.”

A spokesman for the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “The trust has carried out numerous workshops and meetings with staff since May to keep them informed and updated on progress and allowing them to feedback with any questions.

“We are waiting to hear back from NHS regulators before we are able to enter a formal consultation with staff.”

The statement added that staff terms and conditions, including their NHS pension, will be protected if they move to a wholly owned subsidiary.

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