There's trouble in the pathology labs at Guy's and St Thomas' hospital trust.
Union Unite is warning that staff morale is heading south and blames a partnership — now known as Viapath and part-run with King's College Hospital — set up in 2009 between the trust and outsourcing company Serco. The union cites "recruitment and retention problems... excessive workloads, skeleton weekend staffing levels and delays in processing patient samples" and says staff are quitting over plans to move their employment from the NHS to Viapath.
This could be dismissed as another workplace spat were it not for another report last week, from the Independent and Corporate Watch, which says cost cutting has left some labs 'close to disaster'. Perhaps more troublingly, they also say they've seen evidence that Serco has been overcharging the NHS for providing diagnostic services, with estimates running into millions of pounds. Guy's and St Thomas' denies there's any problem with the billing system, though it wouldn't be the first time Serco has been in trouble for overcharging; last year the company agreed to pay back £68.5m in a scandal over offender tagging.