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Lisa Nandy calls on government to act on hospital bullying investigations

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has made a series of shocking allegations against the borough’s NHS bosses and asked the health minister to investigate.

In her letter to secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt Ms Nandy raises serious concerns about how workers who might be moved to subsidiary company WWL Solutions have been treated.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Ms Nandy, who has been a vocal supporter of those taking industrial action throughout the dispute, slammed senior bosses at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust.

She accused hospital top brass of intimidating workers on social media and creating a threatening atmosphere and also said staff were being bullied at WWL over the issue.

She also said the Trust had simply not listened to employees’ concerns.

Hundreds of staff who are affected by the possible move, including cleaners, porters, caterers, switchboard operators and transport staff, walked out in a two-day strike last month.

Another 48-hour period of strike action is set to begin at 6am on Friday.

The decision to down tools has led to a bitter war of words between bosses, particularly WWL chief executive Andrew Foster, and the unions and employees who have been keen to speak up.

In her letter Ms Nandy told Mr Hunt: “There is currently a dispute at WWL regarding proposals to transfer ancillary staff into a new private company, WWL Solutions Ltd.

“There have been efforts to resolve this issue, but the Trust is planning to press ahead with these proposals despite the overwhelming majority of staff having considered and rejected them, citing concerns about workplace standards, patient care, pay, pensions and the creation of a two-tier workforce within the NHS.

“Staff took two days of industrial action which was peaceful, lawful and was clearly supported by many of the medical staff and the public.

“In response, the Chief Executive of the Trust, Andrew Foster, accused workers of taking part in ‘obstructive behaviour’, including blocking urinals and damaging toilets.

“Staff have been greatly upset by these accusations, which they obviously vehemently deny.

“A senior manager’s son called staff ‘scumbags’ and ‘lazy jobsworths’ on social media, with no apology forthcoming.

“I have received reports of personal attacks being made towards staff members on social media.

“There appears to be an orchestrated attempt by management to encourage other members of staff to attack those (the majority) who are supporting industrial action.

“I have seen emails that have been sent that appear to be based on a standard template.

“I am asking you to intervene and investigate these very serious allegations.”

Ms Nandy said several members of staff had personally come forward to report bullying accusations by management to her, and that a senior figure had also dressed down another employee for expressing support for those taking industrial action.

In response to Ms Nandy’s allegations a WWL spokesman said: “At Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust we are committed to listening to the views of our staff and are currently in a time-out period during which we are encouraging suggestions for any possible alternative ideas to WWL Solutions to be put forward.

“WWL takes all issues of inappropriate behaviour very seriously and staff at all levels are held accountable in accordance with our bullying and harassment policy.

“If Ms Nandy would like to provide us with more specific details of these allegations, we would be more than happy to investigate matters further.”