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NHS privatisation already underway as Chesterfield hospital trust outsources services to US privateer

THE sale of the NHS to US privateers is already underway, campaigners warned today after a company in the States was confirmed as the outsourcer of services at a Derbyshire hospital.

US transnational health profiteer the Steris Corporation is to take over Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Trust’s decontamination unit and services that maintain and operate medical equipment.

The essential services’ staff have been told their jobs are being transferred to the US giant, which has its operational base in Ohio, is registered in Dublin and has facilities dotted across the world, including a subsidiary in Britain.

The sale gives the lie to Tory leader Boris Johnson’s protestations that the NHS is “not for sale” to US health privateers.

And the takeover is taking place even before Mr Johnson’s planned trade deal with the US when Britain leaves the European Union.

The transfer to the US giant follows the trust’s setting-up of an independent subsidiary owned by the trust, which has seen 700 jobs moved out of direct employment by the NHS.

NHS trusts across Britain have been establishing wholly-owned subsidiaries as a means of avoiding paying taxes.

Dean Collins, Unite senior shop steward at Chesterfield Royal, told the Morning Star: “It has been a long-running saga.

“When the trust set up their wholly-owned subsidiary, decontamination was going as part of that, but they decided to see if there were any bidders for it.

“I have a paper, a report back. Steris has been chosen as the company to run it. The preferred bidder is Steris.”

He said that before the transfer to the US firm takes place the trust has “some things to put right” at the hospital. “Steris and the trust are in protracted talks,” he said.

The trust’s transfer of services to the private sector is just one part of a privatisation programme whereby £15 billion of NHS funding has been handed to profiteers since the 2015 general election.

Research by general union GMB found that £14.7bn of the £24bn of outsourced contracts awarded since 2015 went to private companies — equivalent to 61 per cent.

So far in 2019, £3.3bn (63 per cent) worth of contracts has been given to organisations in the private sector.

GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “These shocking figures expose the extent to which our NHS is increasingly falling into private hands.

“Outsourcing is bad news for patients and NHS staff. Time and time again, we have seen private providers fail to deliver while our members’ terms and conditions and the NHS national agreement have been undermined.”

The trust confirmed to the Morning Star that the US firm has been chosen to run the services.

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