Threat to jobs as NHS support centre named on leaked hitlist

New Year pharmacy times.
New Year pharmacy times.
Have your say

Dozens of jobs could be at risk, after a Doncaster primary care support centre was named as one of 29 NHS centres across the country set to be closed as part of a leaked privatisation plan.

Documents handed to a national newspaper have today revealed how White Rose House, based in Ten Pound Walk, is set to be closed before the end of May 2016.

The primary care support centre keeps medical records up to date and sends out letters to thousands of patients.

NHS England is planning to hand responsibility for the centres to private company Capita in September.

Now proposals sent to staff suggest Capita is proposing to shut down a total of 29 centres across the country, leaving just three in Leeds, Preston and Essex.

The full extent of the job losses at White Rose House is not yet known, but Unison regional organiser for Yorkshire and the Humber, Natalie Ratcliffe, says the decision to close the town’s primary care support centre is likely to have a ‘big impact’ on Doncaster workers.

She said: “This is inevitably going to come as a big shock to workers in Doncaster. We knew that Capita were going to be taking over those services, but the fact that they’re going to be closing that amount of centres has come as a massive shock.

“They might class them as not being front-line workers, but the work that people in Doncaster – and in other centres do is front line – because if people didn’t receive those letters or have their medical records then they wouldn’t be able to receive treatment and that is important.

“We will be visiting Doncaster and all of the affected sites, but we encourage anyone who is concerned to contact us.

“This is another step towards privatisation on the quiet.

“If they’re moving them all to these three centralised centres, they’ll probably end up in call centres.

“Even if they offer people in Doncaster the chance to relocate, not everyone is going to want or be able to travel to Leeds every day for work.”

In the leaked document, Capita says its closure plans will be subject to “further due diligence and consultation... with unions and staff”.

The contract to run the centres is reportedly worth between £400m and £1bn for up to 10 years.

Capita confirmed they are only the ‘preferred bidder’ at this stage and could not comment further.

Unison say 931 NHS staff who work at all the primary care support centres across the country will transfer to the employment of Capita in September.

Around 150 of these will be offered alternative employment, the union claims, but the rest – around 800 – face redundancy.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “Capita’s proposed plans respond to NHS England’s objectives to realise significant savings and service improvements.

“These proposals have been shared with PCS service staff and the unions, and will form the basis of a full consultation about the impact of changes once the service has been transferred from NHS England to Capita.

“Contract award and future transfer is subject to successfully finalising the contract and consultation with our staff and recognised Trade Unions. We anticipate the transfer of services will be from 1 September 2015.

“We aren’t in a position to confirm numbers ahead of the consultation closing.”