Nurses working in a Welsh dialysis unit have challenged First Minister Carwyn Jones to back them against plans to privatise their jobs.
The nurses based in Wrexham, Bangor, Alltwen (Porthmadog) and Welshpool face being transferred from the NHS to a private company under a tendering process by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which runs health care in north Wales.
The health board is under the direct control of the Labour-run Welsh Government and has been in these special measures for the past three years due to a series of failings.
Plaid Cymru first became aware of this privatisation plan in January and Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru’s shadow health secretary, challenged First Minister Carwyn Jones on the matter on January 30th during FMQs.
His response – that he was ideologically opposed to privatisation in the NHS – was undermined by a letter from the health board confirming that the tendering process had the full backing of Welsh Govt ministers.
Nurses at the Welshpool unit, which under both options going before the health board faces privatisation, have now written to the First Minister to challenge his claims.
Dear Mr Jones
As you may be aware the North Wales Renal Services across Wrexham, Bangor, Alltwen and Welshpool are being put out to tender. The satellite unit in Welshpool has been informed that no matter what happens to the units in Wrexham, Bangor and Alltwen, the Welshpool unit and staff will be outsourced.
We have attached a letter which we have sent to the chief executive, Mr Gary Doherty, of Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board highlighting issues which are of real concern to the staff of the Welshpool unit.
We feel this process has not been handled in accordance with policy, which has left staff feeling let down and disappointed by the management. While we appreciate the financial situation of the Health Board, the staff in Welshpool feel thay are being sacrificed in an effort to cut the Health Board’s deficit.
All staff and Unison are completely opposed to the privatisation of the Welshpool Renal Satellite Unit and we would be the first staff within renal services to be outsourced in Wales.
As you have previously stated in the Welsh Assembly you are opposed to privatisation of any kind of the Welsh NHS, we would appreciate any help and advice you can provide to us at this extremely distressing and worrying time.
All staff of Welshpool Renal Dialysis Satellite Unit
Labour in Wales has been branded “hypocritical” by Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd:
“The hypocrisy of Labour attacking the Tories for privatising the NHS in England while doing precisely the same in Wales is breathtaking. Plaid Cymru will continue to stand alongside the nurses and their unions to ensure that this back-door privatisation does not take place.”
The final decision on the tender will be decided over the summer.