Private firm’s involvement at St Cross defended

Inside the temporary operating theatre
Inside the temporary operating theatre

NHS managers have rebutted criticism by a left-wing political group for contracting a private company to install a new mobile operating theatre at the Hospital of St Cross.

The state-of-the-art facility, provided by Vanguard Healthcare, will carry out up to 40 operations a week but the Rugby branch of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) insists this will do little to reduce waiting lists.

Convenor Pete McLaren said: “Waiting times will not be significantly reduced because the new operating theatre will not have the capacity for many operations.

“We need more facilities at St Cross, including the restoration of an A&E department and full maternity provision.”

TUSC has further claimed that workers staffing the theatre could be forced to accept inferior pay and conditions.

Mr McLaren added: “Most staff in the new unit will be employed by the company, not the NHS, and will not be offered the same pay and conditions. They may not be allowed to join a trade union.

“This is what happens when a private company buys into the NHS, and hospital managers may use it to try and worsen the conditions of existing NHS staff.”

Vanguard Healthcare will source staff for the temporary theatre while the surgeons and anaesthetists will be from University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW).

Juliet Starkey, group manager for the Hospital of St Cross, said: “Whilst the unit will see around 40 operations performed each week, we are introducing other initiatives alongside it which will see the reduction of waiting times for many other procedures.

“This is not a privately run theatre but is a unit run by UHCW with our surgeons and anaesthetists.”

She added: “Working with a third party in no way impacts our existing local staff – all pay and conditions agreements are made nationally.”