A workers' union has handed a letter to Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals after the trust announced its decision to privatise services. 

UNISON criticised the decision by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) to review its housekeeping, cleaning, portering and security services across both hospitals and its community sites from next year.

During a public board meeting on May 2, UNISON workers handed a letter titled 'ESNEFT: In-House is Best' to the board members.

The letter said that the hospital trust has the best opportunity to bring all services in-house, as its contract with OCS for services such as catering in Ipswich Hospital is set to end in April 2025. 

UNISON's letter criticises ESNEFTs decision to privatise services in both hospitals without consulting the staff.

"The decision to outsource has been taken without any of the required engagement with staff or our representatives or consultation with those who know best how to run a service," UNISON added.

Ipswich Star: ESNEFT CEO Nick Hulme said: We should never forget who we are serving, patients and the taxpayer.ESNEFT CEO Nick Hulme said: We should never forget who we are serving, patients and the taxpayer. (Image: Sarah Lucy Brown, Newsquest)

In response, ESNEFT has stated that they will share their business case with the workers and attempts will be made to understand the worker's perspective before anything is signed. 

During the meeting CEO of ESNEFT Nick Hulme said: "We should never forget who we are serving, patients and the taxpayer."

He emphasised that no plan has been formalised yet, and said they will present a full business case after consulting staff in a board meeting in Autumn 2024. 

"Our most important priority is to reassure all our colleagues working in these services that their employment and terms and conditions are protected," he added.

UNISON's Eastern regional organiser Sam Older said: “Nick Hulme told the board to ‘Never Forget’ they’re there to serve patients and the taxpayer, but thousands of patients and taxpayers across Essex and Suffolk have made it clear they want cleaners, caterers, porters and other facilities staff Back for Good.

“We’re pleased trust leaders have now committed to sharing their business case with UNISON so we can properly scrutinise their claims and get past the spin. But we still pray they listen to staff and scrap the plans altogether.”