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Workers complete 48-hour strike over hospital 'privatisation' plans

Non-clinical staff at Wexham Park and Heatherwood hospitals went ahead with a 48-hour strike this week despite a late postponement of industrial action by one trade union group.

A strike had been called over Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust’s plans to move staff in roles including housekeeping and security to a new company, known as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Last-minute talks were held between the trust, which runs the hospitals, and UNISON on Sunday.

The trade union group agreed to postpone its industrial action on the understanding health bosses would look into ‘alternative solutions’ to keep staff employed within the NHS.

But about 100 members of GMB and UNITE continued with their strike as planned.

Gary Palmer, GMB regional officer, said: “GMB members have always maintained open and honest red lines from day one that the trust must cease the creation of a private company or WOS and all staff must be contractually assured they will stay in the NHS.”

Steve Torrance, UNISON’s South East regional secretary, said: “Following productive discussions with the trust, UNISON agreed to postpone the industrial action due to take place this week.

“This is on the understanding that senior managers at Frimley have agreed to look into alternative solutions, including whether it will be possible to keep the staff employed within the NHS.”

The trust said it was able to run full services for patients, with more than 230 staff stepping into roles including cleaning, catering and portering.

More than 750 people attended the hospital’s A&E department, 197 operations were performed and 28 babies born over the 48 hour strike.

Frimley Health chief executive Neil Dardis said: “I am really grateful to the hundreds of willing staff who volunteered their time to make sure that the great care we provide for our patients was not impacted in any way.”

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