Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd said the plans to outsource Wrexham Maelor’s Dialysis Unit were at an advanced stage and he had been approached by concerned health board staff about the implications.
Mr Gruffydd said: “The contract to provide the dialysis service in Wrexham and Flintshire is currently up for tender on Sell2Wales and I understand there are two private firms in the running. When my office made enquiries, we were told that keeping it within the NHS would cost an additional £700,000 because of staff entitlements to sickness pay, holiday pay and pensions.
“So what we’re seeing under Labour in Wales is key services being privatised despite their UK leader criticising the Tories for doing the same thing. This is privatisation by the back door and it is going to have a huge impact on staffing because the only way these private companies can cut costs is by cutting pay and conditions.”
German company B Braun Avitum already runs the dialysis services in Ysbyty Gwynedd and Alltwen near Porthmadog and Mr Gruffydd said staff there had been transferred out of the NHS as a result.
The current contract, expected to be awarded in the next couple of months, is to replace the renal unit in Wrexham with a new unit and potentially a satellite unit at Mold.
Mr Gruffydd said he welcomed the new investment in a much-needed replacement to the building in Wrexham, which was no longer fit for purpose.
He added: “But that is not a legitimate reason to outsource this service. NHS staff work hard and are already stretched in many areas. My concern is that allowing key services to be outsourced like this will mean skilled staff will lose hard-fought rights in terms of pay and conditions. It will fragment our NHS and yet it’s happening under the radar.
“It’s extraordinary that the Labour First Minister of Wales is allowing creeping privatisation of NHS services under his watch.
“Labour’s 2016 manifesto pledged that the ‘NHS will be modernised but not privatised’, but given this example of privatisation and the recent winter crisis, it seems to be more a case of ‘privatised but not modernised’.
“It’s also becoming clear that unduly long waiting times are creating a two-tier health system, where those with the ability to pay are able to have operations within a reasonable timeframe, but those relying on the NHS face long waits that could potentially affect their final health outcomes.
“This is not about ideology, this is about ensuring that providing Welsh patients with the care that they need is the priority rather than allowing private companies to make a profit by picking away at important NHS services. It’s also about protecting hard-working staff, who are already in a stressful job, facing reduced terms and conditions
“It’s time the Welsh Government came forward with a long-term plan for a sustainable Welsh NHS.”