Memorandum by Amicus-AEEU (PS 65)
Amicus-AEEU represents over 20,000 members in
the NHS, the majority of whom work in Estates Departments across
the country and as such are the main targets of the PFI process.
To date Amicus-AEEU members have transferred to the private contractors
in every PFI scheme, amounting to 500 since 1997 with an additional
500 expected to transfer in the next two years.
As the main union involved in the hard facilities
management (Hard fm) aspects of the process, Amicus-AEEU felt
that it was vital that there was some tangible evidence about
what happens to staff after the transfer process. On this note
Amicus-AEEU commissioned a research study on the employment consequences
of the PFI process in September 2001. Within a three-week period,
an Amicus-AEEU Research Officer visited nine NHS PFI sites and
interviewed representatives from the NHS, the private sector,
staff in the Estates Department and the Amicus-AEEU Shop Steward.
These individuals were questioned about the process and the implications
for the workforce. A copy of this report can be obtained from
the Amicus-AEEU Research Department, however a summary of the
The most interesting findings were the comments
of the AEEU members who transferred to the private sector. While
there were obviously a number of concerns prior to transfer about
life in the private sector, post transfer we found the following:
66 per cent of transferred staff
felt protected in their employment with the new private sector
66 per cent of staff felt at least
as valued with the new employer if not more, so then they did
with the Trust.
63 per cent of staff had at least
the same level of job satisfaction, if not more so with the new
employer than they did with the Trust.
77 per cent of interviewed members
felt comfortable in their employment with the new employer.
60 per cent of staff felt at least
as effective if not more so with the new employer than they did
with the NHS.
77 per cent of interviewed members
felt secure in their employment in the private sector.
86 per cent of interviewees maintained
that the majority of staff will be happy to stay working for the
new employer in the long run.
Inevitably our members did have comments regarding
how the transfer process could be improved. These included:
At every PFI project there was a
clear issue surrounding lack of communication between staff and
the NHS Trust, during the process. One solution to this would
be a clear timetable added to the NHS guidelines on PFI, covering
the issue of communication.
Within the NHS training was never
a priority, however training significantly improves after transfer.
This needs to be encouraged across all PFI projects, including
arrangements for apprentices and multi-skilling agreements.
A minimum Whitley guarantee for Terms
and Conditions should be built into the contract as a minimum
provision for all new staff employed to work at the Hospital.
There is an issue about the levels
of wages offered post transfer, new starters are being offered
enhanced levels of pay in comparison to their NHS counterparts.
This is the main evidence, which the study found of a two-tier
Pensions are still the biggest fear
for all AEEU members. The issue of pensions should be dealt with
earlier in the process to allay the fears of transferring staff.
The Government needs to issue standardised
information on private pension schemes that are readily available
to all transferred staff (the AEEU has already completed such
a document, which has been endorsed by the Secretary of State).
Estates workers should be consulted
on both the design and the build of the new hospital, as they
have to ultimately maintain it.
Staff should transfer to the Contractor
as soon as the PFI contract has been signed to allow a transitional
There needs to be clear lines of
authority set between the NHS Trust and the appointed Contractor,
to ensure that staffs do not get caught on the middle. As has
occurred at a number of Trusts, including, Norwich & Norfolk
Had we had the opportunity we would also have
liked to examine with the Select Committee the comparative experience
of publicly funded hospitals viz a viz PFI schemes, focusing on
issues such as construction times and costs. Amicus-AEEU has a
considerable number of members employed in the construction of
hospitals. Our experience of publicly funded hospitals is that
enormous delays can result and costs rocket. We would draw the
Committees attention to the National Audit Office report on the
Guy's Hospital Phase III Development. Costs escalated by £68.7
million, with a funding gap of £26.8 million and the build
was delayed by three years and four months.
Amicus-AEEU maintain that any examination of
the PFI hospital building programmes should start with an analysis
of hospitals built before PFI and the implications of new build
by any means of the patients.