December 12, 2006 08:03 ET

Amicus say that NHS reforms are all about privatisation

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 12, 2006) - The public sector is being subjected to wholesale privatisation and the commercialisation of public services threatens accountability and fails to provide value for money says the UK's second largest union, Amicus.

On the eve of a summit of its' public sector activists (Wednesday 13th December), the union that represents more than 150,000 public sector workers says that public sector reforms, which are often portrayed as necessary to improve service efficiency, secure better value for money and to respond to individual needs, are unproven.

Amicus says that crucial information on contracts and financial figures required to test the efficiency and costs benefits of privatisation are being withheld by government. It says there is no evidence to support the claims that privatisation provides better services or cost savings.

In fact, the union says that problems from 'super bugs', cuts in hospital and community health services, the poor quality of school and hospital food, the cancellation of 'unprofitable' transport links and unacceptable increases in social housing rents are just some of the unintended consequences of private involvement in the public sector.

Amicus is calling for a public debate on the use of the private sector in public services, full consultation on individual cases and a more rigorous approach to testing existing private sector contracts.

Gail Cartmail, Amicus' Head of Public Services, said: "Despite its stance in opposition, since coming to power in 1997 the New Labour government has introduced markets and private money with all their reforms. Markets and the use of private money are the centre of every reform and in every corner of the public sector - in schools, health care, hospital building, social housing, charity funding, school dinners and detention centres. Even the process of reform is being contracted out to private consultancies.

"Amicus is the UK's largest private sector union and while we recognise that many private sector companies have developed models of good practice, we believe that the obsession with privatising public services is unfounded. Private money and private enterprises are being presented as the panacea to public sector problems, but there is very little evidence to back this up. In the meantime our public services and our public sector workers are being eroded, denigrated and demoralised."

Hundreds of Amicus members from across the country will be travelling to London on Tuesday 23rd January to lobby members of Parliament as part of a TUC organised 'Speak Up for the Public Sector' event.

Amicus' public sector members work across the NHS, in central government departments, local authorities, in further and higher education, in the Post Office and probation services.

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If you want any further information or to interview Gail Cartmail, Head of Amicus' Public Services or any of Amicus' public sector activists, please contact Catherine Bithell in the Amicus press office on 020 7 420 8909 or 07958 473 224

Contact Information

  • Amicus press office
    Catherine Bithell
    020 7 420 8909 or 07958 473 224