Health workers in Sandwell protest over plans
Health staff in West Bromwich have demonstrated over the future of their Primary Care Trust (PCT).
Sandwell PCT is considering whether to become a social enterprise or an NHS provider under Government reforms.
Children, family and adult services workers picketing Lyng health centre in Sandwell are opposed to becoming a social enterprise.
Managers said the board was still considering options but staff would be given a ballot.
The government has said all PCTs, which face abolition by 2013, must separate provision of services from their commissioning by March 2011.'Control'
They have the option of becoming a social enterprise - where services are run like a business but with profits ploughed back in - or integration with an existing NHS provider.
So far only two other PCTs in the country - Shropshire, and Telford and Wrekin - are examining the social enterprise option.
Andy Williams, Director of Commissioning at Sandwell PCT said a business case for a social enterprise was being developed, on which staff would be balloted.
End Quote Tracy Ward Unison
We feel it is stealth privatisation of the NHS community services”
"The advantages of social enterprise are it gives control of healthcare to the staff themselves, it's their organisation.
"It potentially gives them greater flexibility and opportunities to work and address local need," he said.
Mr Williams said an extraordinary board meeting of Sandwell PCT in August would make the final decision.
Tracy Ward of health workers trade union Unison said staff felt they were being pushed to agreeing that a social enterprise was better than the NHS at providing healthcare.
"We feel it is stealth privatisation of the NHS community services," she said.
"The staff that work in the NHS provide an excellent service already, they don't need to go into the private sector to do that."