Stockton : NHS jobs given to private sector

A union official has criticised a Labour council for putting 11 experienced health trainers out of a job after it chose a private company over the existing NHS provider.

The decision by Stockton Borough Council to award the contract to provide health trainer services to the private Leeds-based company More Life in preference to the existing providers – a team of 11 health trainers employed by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust – means the NHS in the North-East is facing a redundancy bill for more than £200,000.

But the council defended its actions describing the NHS bid for the contract as “very poor” and stressing that the authority was heavily investing in a new family weight management service.

In 2005 the North-East was among the first areas in the country to benefit from NHS personal trainers.

But since public health budgets were switched from the NHS to local councils some contracts have been awarded to private companies.

More Life’s website says the company delivers weight management and health improvement programmes to individuals, families, local communities and within workplaces and has an impressive track record.

It was founded by Professor Paul Gately, one of the UK’s most respected experts in obesity and nutrition

 Mike Hill, regional organiser for Unison, said:
“Unison is concerned as to how and why these hard working healthcare professionals have been left high and dry by a procurement process which led to their own NHS trust being unsuccessful in tendering for work it already carries out.

“We are determined to get clear answers from Stockton Council and the trust as to why this has happened and why our members are facing redundancy instead of transferring to the new provider. It’s simply not right and we need to get to the bottom of this quickly. “

Stockton Borough Council’s director of public health, Peter Kelly, said:

“The Stockton Health and Wellbeing board has commissioned a new service for children and family weight management investing £1.4 million over the next three years and in addition to this is also currently investing nearly £200,000 per year in services for adults. North Tees and Hartlepool Trust was one of the bidders for the new service but the quality of its submission was very poor.”

 “We have a duty to choose the tender that offers the best quality of service and value for money. We have re-commissioned the North Tees and Hartlepool Trust to deliver the majority of public health services, but were very disappointed with the trust’s tender to deliver our new look children and family weight management service.”

Source – Northern Echo, 27 Mar 2015

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