Questions over Reading hospital security guard contract

NHS bosses probed on profit margins of £755,000 contract for Reading hospital security guards

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NHS bosses are being quizzed on the profit margins of the outsourced contract for the security guards at Reading hospital, who are currently locked in a ‘David and Goliath’ pay battle.

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust is paying Kingdom Service Group Ltd a total of £755,763-a-year to provide security for the trust. The security guards are currently on strike until early March over the Kingdom management’s failure to make a decent pay offer for 2020.

Unite is now questioning whether the contract is ‘value for money’ and how big the profits margins are for Kingdom Service Group – a major corporate service provider with a £100 million plus turnover.

Unite wants to know if it would not be better value for the taxpayer if the contract was brought back in-house which would then eradicate the hefty built-in profit margins that the outsourced company now enjoys.

Unite regional officer Jesika Parmar said, “Given that Kingdom Service Group is currently paid £755,763-a-year to provide security for the trust and the guards are so lowly paid, we believe that the profit margins on this contract are unacceptably generous.

“We are requesting that the trust’s bosses ask the Kingdom Service Group for the level of profits it has amassed since it took over the contract in April 2018.

“There could be a very strong case for this contract being taken back in-house and the money saved being spent on patient services, rather than a profit-hungry private company, at this critical juncture in the battle against Covid-19,” she added.

“We would also like to see the security guards currently on the NHS frontline to be properly rewarded for their dedication and hard work and this would be achieved if the Kingdom contract was jettisoned.”

The 20 security guards have been taking strike action since mid-December and the third wave of strike action will run from 7pm on Friday, February 12 Fand ending at 7pm on Sunday, March 7.

This follows on from already announced strikes from 7am today (February 8) until 7pm on Friday, February 12.

 Unite’s members are seeking a pay increase to £12 an hour for security officers and £13.00 an hour for security supervisors but, so far, the bosses have refused to budge from an offer which would see security officers on £9.30 an hour and supervisors on £10 an hour.

 Unite also continues to press for further movement on issues such as harmonisation of sick pay, and enhanced pay for working nights, weekends and overtime.

Those working for the NHS and members of the general public can sign the online petition supporting the security guards here. 

By Shaun Noble

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