King’s College Hospital holds a very special place in the hearts and minds of so many of my constituents in Southwark and Lambeth. My mum worked at King’s and both of my daughters were born there, writes Helen Hayes, Dulwich and West Norwood MP…
Our hospital has a brilliant staff team who do lifesaving and life enhancing work every day, but it has been badly let down by both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats in government. Since 2010 King’s has gone from having a balanced budget and meeting all of its key targets, to now having the largest debt and largest deficit of any hospital in the country, overspending by almost £180 million in the last financial year.
As a result of the dire financial position of the hospital it was proposed last year that the Capital, Estates and Facilities Management facilities would be privatised. The main reason for this was to avoid paying VAT. But any saving made by King’s by not paying VAT would simply result in exactly the same amount of tax not being collected by the government, so overall this would not save the public purse a single penny, but only contribute to the further fragmentation of our NHS.
I met with staff and union representatives who were desperately worried about these proposals and worked with them closely to challenge these privatisation plans. Staff at the Hospital were concerned about the performance of other services transferred to KFM and the lack of staff engagement in the process. They were of course also worried about losing their place as employees in the NHS family.
I wrote to the chair of King’s College Hospital asking him to conduct a full review of the proposal and met face to face with the new Chief Executive to highlight my concerns and the those of local residents and hospital staff.
I’m delighted that King’s College Hospital have now agreed to drop this disastrous plan. I am clear that the battleground for the future of King’s – our precious local hospital – must be the fight for sustainable government funding, not the outsourcing of NHS staff to privatised companies.
The collapse of Carillion and the disruption to hospital workers across the country painfully demonstrated the dangers of outsourcing. Staff faced lost jobs and changes to their long-held contracts, months of insecurity and the loss of large chunks of their pension. Our hospitals must be run by the NHS for the public good, and we must say no to this creeping Tory privatisation.