Working conditions of people involved in manufacturing or distribution will always be secondary. So this privatisation is an attack not just on NHS staff in Britain who will see their jobs go over to the under-unionised private sector, but on workers in countries like China who are doing the cheaper manufacturing. Many employees of suppliers in Britain may also be dumped when these companies go under at the whim of Novation. All these workers will suffer from this change in supply of medical goods - part of a much larger programme of public sector 'waste' reduction that will continue to blur the distinction between state-run and private services.
The initial response from healthworkers has been encouraging but commercialisation of NHS seems to be carrying on regardless of well-attended demonstrations & strikes (and pointless, it has to be said, lobbying of the Labour Party conference by the unions). It is clear that continued solidarity and direct action will be needed to protect working conditions in the future.
Wide U.S. Inquiry Into Purchasing for Health Care (21 Aug 2004): http://www.nonprofithealthcare.org/documentView.asp?docID=83&sid=
Firm handed £4bn NHS contract was investigated for overcharging: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8122-2292710,00.html
MediaLens forum‚ ‘STOP the privatisation of the NHS!’: http://www.medialens.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7018
200 NHS Staff Walk Out In Runcorn: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/09/351428.html
Unison NHS Logistics campaigning: http://www.unison.org.uk/healthcare/NHSlogistics/
GMB union in DHL: http://www.gmbindhl.unionweb.co.uk/
NHS Logistics: http://www.logistics.nhs.uk/