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48-hour strike announced over 'privatisation' plan at Wexham Park and Heatherwood hospitals

Non-clinical staff are to stage a 48-hour strike over plans which could see some employees at Wexham Park Hospital stripped of their status as NHS staff.

Trade union groups representing workers at the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Wexham Park, Frimley Park and Heatherwood hospitals, announced the walkout at a meeting of the trust’s board today.

The strike has been organised to oppose the creation of a wholly owned subsidiary which would see workers in jobs such as housekeeping and portering transferred to a new company, owned by the trust.

Jerry Hackett, who works as a kitchen porter, told the meeting: “For us, as workers, we’re the lowest paid people in the NHS.

“Our basic wage is just above minimum wage and to expect to be put in the position where our wage could be even more at risk is very, very wrong.

“We think this is inconsiderate and in all honesty we think the board have looked down on people like us thinking that it’s just an easy swoop to target people at the bottom.

“If you think you’re going to steamroller over us you’ve got another thing coming because there’s no way we’re going to allow it.”

Pradip Patel, chairman of the trust, told the meeting that the move would guarantee no job losses, protect salaries and would not affect the NHS pensions of non-clinical staff.

He added: “With my hand on my heart this is not about trying to hurt people who do a great job and are on band 1 and 2 wages.”

Kieran Pearson, regional organiser for UNISON, told the board a walkout is planned to start at 7am on November 18.

He said: “It’s not an action we’ve taken lightly and it’s not done with any relish at all.

“We’ve attempted to negotiate but so far we haven’t seen substantive movement between what the trust is proposing and what the aspirations of the workers are.”

The meeting took place at Wexham Park Hospital.

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