Hundreds of cleaners, porters, security guards and domestic staff working at the Barts Health group of hospitals are to benefit from NHS pay, terms and conditions
- Almost 1,800 staff will be transferred across to join the existing 17,000 Barts Health staff as NHS employees under the Agenda for Change (AfC) conditions
- Detailed work will commence to bring all "soft facilities management" services in-house from 1 May 2023.
Hundreds of cleaners, porters, security guards, and domestic staff working at the Barts Health group of hospitals are to benefit from NHS pay, terms and conditions.
This follows a decision by the Trust Board yesterday to bring the services they provide back in-house when the current contract with Serco expires next year.
Almost 1,800 staff will be transferred across to join the existing 17,000 Barts Health staff as NHS employees under Agenda for Change (AfC) conditions. This will improve their pay prospects, currently based on the Trust’s commitment to the London Living Wage.
Serco won the contract in a competitive tender in 2017 but recently served notice that it would exercise its right to terminate early, at the end of April 2023.
The Trust engaged with trade unions and other stakeholders to explore alternative options. The Board and its finance and investment committee agreed to pursue one that was both financially advantageous but would also improve the quality of service, be flexible in response to demand, and maximise engagement with staff.
Shane Degaris, deputy group chief executive, said: “Our porters, cleaners, security guards, catering staff, ward hosts and domestic staff are the lifeblood of our hospitals and clinical colleagues could not do their vital work without them.
“We have always considered contracted employees to be part of our wider Barts Health family. However as we developed our WeBelong inclusion strategy to end racial discrimination, we realised that the Trust had a responsibility to take practical steps to include all our employees, including the lowest-paid.”
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: "After extensive campaigning, it’s great that cleaners, receptionists, porters, catering and security staff and others at Barts Health will be employed directly by the NHS again.
"These staff kept our hospitals running at the height of the pandemic. They're the heart of the NHS, and they deserve to be treated as such.
“It’s a welcome move that the trust has done the right thing and brought staff back in house."
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: "Unite has struck a landmark agreement with one of the UK's largest NHS trusts to end the two-tier workforce. Unite members and their representatives have shown impressive determination and resilience to reach this negotiated settlement. The workers are exposed to the same risks as NHS-employed staff, so it's only right for them to be treated equally and brought back into NHS employment.
"The pandemic has put the treatment of NHS workers into the spotlight. Unite will be ramping up the pressure on other trusts because they can no longer look away."
UNISON regional organiser Pam Okuns-Edokpayi said: “This is a fantastic result for a group of staff who fully deserve to be fully part of the NHS again.
“UNISON is proud of the deal we negotiated, but it wouldn't have been possible without the support of our members at Barts. Thanks to them, we're the largest and most effective union in the NHS.
“This means being able to deliver on the issues that matter like bringing this contract back in house.”
Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: "It was clear from Unite's dispute with Serco that the inequality and pay disparity that our members faced needed to be addressed. The Trust board has now confirmed that the mainly Black, Asian and ethnic minority staff will be brought in-house and transferred on to Agenda for Change terms and conditions from day one. The agreement negotiated between Unite and Barts Health is a significant step forward. The workers have tirelessly campaigned and their solidarity has paid off. Barts Health has set an example which other NHS trusts should follow."
We will now commence detailed work to bring all so-called “soft facilities management” services in-house from 1 May 2023 and will work with trade unions and staff representatives to secure a smooth transition that enables staff to be brought on to AfC conditions as soon as reasonably practicable.