DHL Logistics has been given a £1.6bn ten-year contract, to handle £22 billion total spend of the Department of Health.
Klaus Zumwinkel, chief executive officer and chairman of Deutsche Post World Net, said the contract is a significant success for the group: “After the take-over of Exel and given DHL’s extensive expertise in the health sector, we were able to make our customer a truly convincing offer. We now reap the benefits of both our internationalization strategy and our broad product range.”
DHL will operate the contract under the title of NHS Supply Chain service and will handle some 500,000 products supporting 600 hospitals and other health providers.
Unison, the public services union, vowed to fight back against the sale of NHS Logistics and has ballotted for strike action in five distribution centres; Alfreton in Derbyshire, Runcorn in Cheshire, Normanton in West Yorkshire, Maidstone in Kent and Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk.
A spokesperson said: “We are in the middle of a ballot for action. The closing date for the ballot is lunchtime on the 11th September 2006.
Karen Jennings, Unison head of health, said: “This is a very sad day for the NHS. The government has not listened to the workforce or to reason. Staff across the NHS will be watching this privatisation deal which will be viewed by many as symbolic of what’s to come.”
Andy Burnham, health minister said that the new deal could save the NHS £1bn over ten years and create more than 1000 new jobs.
He said: “This is a good deal for staff, patients and the taxpayer.”
Also under the agreement, DHL will be responsible for procuring a range of products from catering supplies to medical equipment and delivering them to NHS hospitals and GP surgeries.
The business operations, including 1,650 staff are due to be transferred to DHL on 1 October 2006.