Well done to the unions, entirely missing the point of contracting out

The complaint here is that NHS pay is at one level. Because, you know, Our Angels in Blue and all that. But those who are cleaners and washers up in the NHS doesn’t get these rates of pay because they’re contracted out. Yes, this is the point of the contracting out:

Tens of thousands of NHS workers are struggling to get by on the minimum wage because their private sector employers are failing to match public sector pay rises.

The estimated 100,000 low-paid cleaners, porters, security guards and catering staff who work for private contractors in hospitals across England are being treated as “second-class employees”, thanks to a growing pay divide between public and private sector workers, according to the country’s leading health union.


The union wants everyone employed within the NHS to be on at least £9.03 an hour. Currently, Unison says, many staff employed by private contractors are on the minimum wage, which is £8.21, equating to an annual salary of £16,052, or £1,600 a year less than what the lowest-paid worker in the public sector is paid.

“All hospital workers are part of the NHS team and should be paid fairly for the important jobs they do,” said Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health. “The days of treating them as second-class employees must end.”

We want to pay cleaners what it is necessary to pay people to come and clean. We want to pay pot washers what it is that will gain us an adequate supply of pot washers. That’s simply how labour allocation and wages work in a market economy.

One of the points about contracting out was precisely to be able to distinguish between those hard to find skills necessary for the NHS to function and those that can be found out just in the general economy at whatever pay rates.

To claim that non-medical staff are paid the general economy rate, not the NHS one, because they are contracted out is to miss the very point of having contracting out in the first place. We’re trying to make that distinction, that’s the justification of the idea in the first place.