Why the secret about who will run the Leamington Covid Mega-Lab?
Questions remain about Leamington’s future Covid ‘Mega-Lab’ – and who will lead it.
In May, we asked the government to explain why the site (off Tachbrook Road / Queensway) has still not been built, after promising it would be up and running in the spring, following previous promises that it would be ready in january.
But employees are still in limbo – and health activists fear the new lab is a “Trojan horse for privatization.”
The Department of Health and Welfare told us in May that the site would be “publicly owned and operated by the Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC) as part of the NHS Test and Trace network of laboratories” .
But employees were told the Mega-lab would be run by a private company, Medacs, and staff were recruited by private companies.
In March, staff were recruited by Sodexo, and now by Impellam.
One employee told us, “DHSC has stated that the lab ‘is not and will not be privately owned or operated’, which I believe is not true.
“I won’t even be rewarded with an NHS pension or benefits like the Blue Light program (if I even start working).
“To say that we were left in limbo is absolutely correct.”
“We have been left in limbo,” says a Leamington employee who is still waiting …
“There was no explanation as to why the new lab couldn’t be managed by the Coventry and Warwickshire Pathology Service (CWPS) – the network of NHS labs hosted by the University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust which provides a full service to Coventry and Warwickshire hospitals and general practitioners, ”said a spokesperson for the group.
“Why isn’t the new Mega-Lab part of this accredited and secure NHS system?
“Instead, it’s part of the £ 37 billion test and traceability system.”
They report a job posting for the Mega-Lab which states that workers “will be employed on a term employment basis with an employment agency within the Impellam group and not directly employed by NHS Test and Trace” .
He added: “Employment agencies belonging to the Impellam group include SRG, Medacs, Lorien and Blue Arrow. Contractual employment conditions will be defined by the employment agency.”
“There is no mention of the NHS terms and conditions, NHS pensions or recognition by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, which certifies, tests and inspects laboratories,” the SWKONP group said.
“The secrecy, the obvious role of private contractors in recruiting staff, the decision to keep the Mega-Lab separate from the local NHS and bypassing the professional body and unions give real reason to fear another fiasco privatized is in progress.
“We call on Boris Johnson’s government to hand over the Mega-Lab to local NHS pathology services to continue providing all diagnostic services and to receive the investment needed to expand Covid-19 and other diagnostics, in order to maintain their essential contribution to optimal delivery of patient care. “
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western will join the SWKONP group when they hold a booth outside Leamington Town Hall on July 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the NHS.
He has been investigating the Mega-Lab for months and says he “wholeheartedly shares the concerns of South Warwickshire Keep Our NHS Public”.
The MP last week secured a meeting with representatives of the laboratory which he described as “useful” – “but I am still awaiting adequate answers to many questions,” he added.
“Be clear, I would be much more comfortable if the lab was run by the NHS Pathology Service, if it hadn’t used private companies, and if it was fully accountable and transparent – which unfortunately not the case, ”he said. mentionned.
“I am delighted that representatives have made efforts to finally address my concerns.
“But now we need guarantees that there will be no downsizing of the project, it will still create the 1,800 jobs promised and staff will receive salaries and terms aligned with NHS standards.
“It must also serve as a supplement to pre-existing NHS services without undermining them – about which I have already received assurances.
“I also want assurances that staff in a clinical setting, preferably trained by the NHS, are involved in the operation of the site – and not just expensive business consultants.”
We again posed our own questions to the Department of Health and Social Affairs and asked them to respond to the allegations in this article, but received no response from them.