Betsi Cadwaladr and Cardiff and Vale health boards plan to privatise pharmacies in their hospitals. Healthcare workers have spoken of their shock at the attempt to undermine the public service ethos of the Welsh National Health Service.
UNISON has accused executives of rushing into privatisation without considering alternatives and how NHS privatisations in England have caused chaos for patients and staff.
Betsi Cadwaladr says it wishes to reduce costs and save on tax and claims it does not have enough staff to dispense medication to the standard it would like. UNISON has questioned how the private sector will be able to improve the quality of service with less money.
UNISON Cymru Wales head of health Paul Summers said,
“Private companies have no place in the Welsh NHS. The collapse of Carillion shows the private sector doesn’t always know best and it is not more efficient than the public sector.
“Patient needs will not be the first priority for private companies focused on generating a profit and privatising pharmacies could open the way to wholesale privatisations of other NHS Wales services. This has never been the way healthcare workers, the public or the Welsh government want our health service to be run.
“Taxpayers will be paying for a service yet money will be going in to private shareholders pockets and won’t be reinvested in the NHS.
“UNISON wants to work with health boards to see how patient services can be improved. The sensible way forward is for pharmacies to be retained in-house and to recruit more dispensing staff.
“If health boards say they need more money to prevent privatisation of pharmacies, we will work together with them and the Welsh health secretary to jointly lobby the UK government.”
Notes for editors
Under its plans to privatise pharmacies, Betsi Cadwaladr will commit to refurbishing a space in its hospitals to then be given over to private companies to use for their pharmacy. UNISON has asked why public money should be used creating a resource for a private company which will then take money out of the NHS.
Betsi Cadwaladr has suggested an ‘outsource project team’ be created, comprised of 11 members of staff and 2 representatives. UNISON has described this as a waste of money.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Press Officer on 07816 53 83 97