Government's decision on Serco services doesn't go far enough

Monday 09 Mar 2020

The Health Services Union of WA (HSUWA) welcomes the state government’s announcement to bring up to 650 jobs back in house at Fiona Stanley Hospital, but is disappointed hundreds of jobs were left out.

HSUWA Secretary Naomi McCrae said it was a huge mistake for the Barnett Government to give Serco the contract to run non-clinical health services at the flagship Fiona Stanley Hospital in the first place, but to see this government only reverse three service lines out of the 25 performed by Serco is a missed opportunity. 

Only about 16 HSUWA members will benefit from the privatised services being brought back into public hands, with hundreds of jobs including the job of security officers, who keep our hospitals safe, not considered in the plan.

“We are delighted to see these frontline health services return to public hands, but it was deeply disappointing that the scope of return was so limited,” Ms McCrae said. 

“Unfortunately, the HSUWA has not been consulted about this decision and indeed has not had any opportunity to understand the basis for the decision.

 “There is no demonstrable reason justifying the return of the three services over others, and we call on the government to explain this process. 

“This is a great missed opportunity and the government needs to properly engage in consultation with HSUWA and explain the basis for the decision. 

“For example, we think that Security, being integrated as a part of the clinical services, should have seriously been considered particularly following last year’s Stop the Violence Summit and commitment to keeping our hospitals safe. 

“Privatisation of services such as security in hospitals ultimately jeopardises patient safety and care, and that is unacceptable.” 

As part of an independent report in 2018 John Langoulant said: “The absence of a stand-alone business case to underpin the $4.3 billion Serco contract was the worst case of financial risk taking for the State to be reviewed by the Special Inquirer.”

“The lack of transparency over how our public money is being spent remains problematic and why an extension has been made until 2027 for the remaining services at our state’s largest hospital remains opaque,” HSUWA Secretary Naomi McCrae said. 

The union will now undertake a survey of members to find out more about their response to today’s announcement.

HSUWA represents more than 18,000 people employed in WA’s public hospitals and health services, including for example administrative staff, clerks, technicians, physiotherapists, pharmacists, medical imaging technologists, clinical psychologists, social workers, medical scientists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, dieticians, podiatrists, radiation therapists, mental health workers, and other health professionals. All play a vital role in our health system.

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