Hundreds of staff at risk as QA contractor goes into liquidation

QA Hospital's redevelopment REP: CS''QA Exterior during it's redevelopment ''PICTURE: Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
QA Hospital's redevelopment REP: CS''QA Exterior during it's redevelopment ''PICTURE: Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
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AROUND 800 members of staff employed by Carillion and working at Queen Alexandra Hospital face job uncertainty after the construction company went into liquidation.

The private firm employs hundreds of staff at the Cosham site covering a range of services from cleaning to pest control and parking.

Staff need assurances about whether they have a job, who will pay their wages, and what’s going to happen to their pensions.

Dave Prentis

But yesterday it announced it had gone into liquidation with it being unclear how its 20,000 UK employees will be affected.

The union Unison said ‘it was a terrible time for the thousands of staff employed by Carillion’.

James Smith, regional organiser for Unison south east, said: ‘Staff are pretty shocked by everything that is going on and the uncertainty of their future.

‘Speaking to QA staff they said this is the last thing the hospital’s management team need at a time when there are winter pressures and other issues within the NHS.

‘Carillion employees are being asked to carry on working and be relied upon even though they cannot rely on the company to pay them longer than a month and their pensions, that is disgraceful.’

Mark Cubbon, chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT), which runs QA Hospital, said all their facilities remained open as normal.

He said: ‘We know this will be an unsettling time for all staff and I personally thank them for their continuing important work that they do on behalf of our patients.

‘I will be talking to them through their line management teams.

‘All of our facilities remain open as normal, and patient appointments are unaffected.

‘Patients should come to their appointments as usual.’

PHT has a private finance initiative (PFI) agreement with Carillion following the development of the hospital. A 35-year concession was agreed outlining the services the private company would be responsible for.

Mr Cubbon added: ‘In common with a number of NHS trusts, we use Carillion to provide some facilities management services.

‘We have extensive contingency plans for dealing with this issue and making sure services to our patients continue to be provided safely and to a high standard.’

Carillion reportedly started having finance problems last year and recently went into talks with the government to reach a deal.

But this is said to have fallen through with banks refusing to lend more money.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘The government needs to move quickly to bring these contracts back in-house.’

To maintain the public sector projects run by the company, the government is moving swiftly to provide funding amid fears they could plunge into chaos.