NHS strikes over as council's offer stops subsidiary firm

A picket line during the dispute
A picket line during the dispute

The industrial action that has gripped the borough's NHS is over after the council agreed a deal which will stop a controversial subsidiary firm going ahead.


In a dramatic intervention town hall leader Coun David Molyneux and deputy Coun Keith Cunliffe worked with hospital bosses and trade unions to bring an end to weeks of conflict over wholly-owned company WWL Solutions.

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Wigan Council has stepped in with a financial deal which will enable Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust to invest in transforming services in order to create future long-term savings.

This means hospital chiefs were able to withdraw their plan to create WWL Solutions in order to meet Government savings targets.

The town hall said the solution was acceptable to all parties.

A seven-day strike scheduled to begin on July 17 led by Unison has now been called off.

WWL Solutions has dominated headlines in recent weeks, with three walk-outs among estates and facilities staff and increasingly-bitter divisions between WWL bosses on one side and employees, politicians and unions on the other.

All parties expressed their delight at finding a way out of the dispute.

Coun Molyneux said: “We are very pleased the offer we have made has been accepted by both sides and it can now result in this dispute ending.

“We thank the trust for accepting the offer and the unions for playing a constructive role in working with the council.

“The option we have made has to be accepted on a permanent basis.

“It has been a difficult period for all involved including staff and patients. We look forward to everyone now working together for the benefit of our residents and the care they receive.”

Robert Armstrong, chairman of WWL, said: “I am delighted that Wigan Council has been able to find a funding option that means we can withdraw our plan to create a wholly-owned subsidiary.

“WWL has only ever wanted to protect the financial stability of the Trust in order to preserve jobs and deliver high quality patient care.

“This is great partnership working in Wigan and the new way forward, of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and council working with the hospital and the community, delivers that stability.”

Unison has confirmed that the strike committee have voted to end the dispute and call off further action on the basis that the WWL Solutions proposals are withdrawn

Kevan Nelson,the union's North West regional secretary, said: “Unison welcomes the decision to withdraw the proposed outsourcing of estates and facilities to WWL Solutions and thanks Wigan Council for its timely intervention.

“The hard-working and loyal staff have demonstrated how much they value their employment in the National Health Service.

“We look forward to working with the Trust to ensure that high quality health services continue to be delivered to the people of Wigan.”

Dr Tim Dalton, chairman of Wigan Borough CCG, said: “This is very good news and I’m glad to see everyone putting the needs of patients first.”

The council and health bodies in the borough including WWL, the CCG and NW Boroughs are working together as part of the Healthier Wigan Partnership.

It is hoped this will see health and social care services working more closely in a more efficient and effective way improving patient care and reducing the demand on hospital services.