Unions warn of possible charges for giving birth as NHS signs first privatisation deal

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Unions have warned the privatisation of maternity care in the Wirral could lead to pregnant women being charged for a range of services in the future.

NHS Wirral has become the first trust in the country to sign a contract with a private company, One to One to provide maternity services to women.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The fact that this is the first time the NHS has signed a contract of this nature, with the backing of the Department of Health, is nothing to be proud of – it is the thin edge of the wedge.

“In five years time, who is to say there won’t be a scale of charges for some maternity services at this very pivotal, and often traumatic, moment in a women’s life – giving birth.”

UNISON‘s head of heath Christina McAnea said: “Maternity services are for too important to be entrusted to unaccountable private companies.

“Of course pregnant women want choice, but they want a genuine choice over whether to have their baby in hospital or at home, or whether to do so by conventional means or to use alternative methods such as water births.

“They don’t want an artificial choice between different types of providers, being brought about not in the best interests of mothers and mothers to be, but in the interests of a free market ideology that wants to undermine the NHS.”

Len McCluskey continued: “Before the Health and Social Care Bill is even law, the Tories are pressing full steam ahead with the privatisation of NHS – this is an affront to the democratic process.

“Unite is very concerned that as private companies take over more and more services in the NHS, the profit motive will take priority over patient care – and that the pay and employment  conditions of NHS staff, such as midwives and maternity staff, will be seriously eroded over time.

“It is another chipping away at the ethos of a universal NHS free at the point of delivery for all those in need – and MPs and peers currently scrutinising the health bill need to see the Wirral development as a foretaste of what is to come and throw out this pernicious legislation.

“David Cameron’s promise that there would be no privatisation of the NHS is now entirely worthless.  Liberal Democrats, whether they are peers, MPs, councillors or activists, should take note – and find the courage to defend the NHS from the privateers deeply entrenched within the coalition.

“Already this company is in talks with other NHS trusts in England Wales about providing some of their maternity services – the privatisation of NHS is quickly accelerating.”

 


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