FOLLOWING recent articles and letters in the Keighley News concerning the privatisation plans at Airedale Hospital, I am writing to comment further about this contentious issue of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust creating a private ‘wholly-owned subsidiary’ company to run much of the non-clinical services.

The services affected are estates, facilities and procurement and many of the 380 staff being transferred to this new company include porters, domestic cleaners and maintenance workers, who are some of the lowest paid staff in the NHS.

As a former employee at Airedale Hospital I know many of the staff affected by this, and they are not happy about these plans.

They are extremely worried about their future and are angered that their jobs are being privatised as a means to exploit tax loopholes and potentially worsen their terms and conditions of employment in order to boost trust coffers.

These low-paid staff feel it is immoral for them to be treated in this way by the Airedale trust board.

They say they are equally as important as ‘clinical’ staff, because without them the hospital could not function safely and patients would be at risk.

The trust is very quick to highlight and make great play of its ‘right care values’ and how it values each and every member of staff, yet these staff do not feel valued at all by this decision.

These are dedicated, caring and hard-working staff, some of whom have given more than 30 years’ loyal service to Airedale, yet now feel as though they are just being discarded. So much for ‘right care values’.

The staff affected also feel these plans have been rushed through with little or no consultation about other options available. The plans include the transfer of all hospital buildings, land and equipment to the private company. But, these are publicly-owned assets and the trust has a duty of care to the community to ensure there is a wider consultation and discussion about the disposal of these public assets – however, this has not been done and the trust board made its decision behind closed doors.

This was a scandalous decision by Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, but sadly, reflects an increasing trend nationally across the NHS.

Over the past five years we have seen more and more ‘for profit’ companies win contracts to run NHS services or facilities. This has risen from 34 per cent of the total value of contracts awarded in 2015/16 to 43 per cent of the total value awarded in 2017/16, which amounted to £3.1 billion.

If we want to see the NHS survive as a fully publicly-funded service, we all need to speak out loudly now and lobby our elected representatives to stop the scandal of increasing privatisation in the NHS.

RALPH QUIGLEY Crosshills Road Cononley