‘It is simply unacceptable to continue to treat your former staff in this way’: Commons Speaker John Bercow writes open letter to owner of Royal Bucks Hospital demanding he pay workers

John Bercow

John Bercow

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Commons Speaker John Bercow has told the owner of Royal Bucks Hospital that he will not go away until staff are paid up.

The Vale MP has written an open letter to The Bucks Herald demanding that Dr James Clarke speak publicly about his future plans.

The hospital closed last October but is yet to pay salary and redundancy packages believed to total more than £350,000 to its nurses.

The Grade II listed building is currently up for sale.

Mr Bercow wrote: “The central issue is that these individuals have both a moral and legal right to be paid.

“It is simply unacceptable to continue to treat your former staff in this way.”

The MP writes that he is ‘alarmed that you have apparently failed to honour your commitment to pay your former staff the money they are owed’.”

He signs off by telling Dr Clarke: “Of one thing you can be sure. The issue will not go away. My constituents will not go away.

“I will not go away until I am satisfied that they have received the payments they are owed.”

Since salaries started to go unpaid in July the nurses have held demonstrations, visited Lord Hunt in London to plead their case, lobbied MPs and lodged employment tribunals through their unions.

However, senior healthcare assistant, Rosalyn John, said she thinks Mr Bercow’s letter is their last chance to convince Dr Clarke to pay up.

She said: “This is our last-ditch attempt. Dr Clarke has been arrogant and run away. The hospital don’t want to talk to us.

“It’s going on and on. There’s still no guarantee we will get our money. We have tried everything else.

“We are hoping this open letter from John Bercow will have an effect.”

Ms John said she has not been able to pay rent or afford food in recent months since being made redundant after more than nine years service.

She added: “Christmas was really, really difficult. I had no food in the cupboards, no money.

“It’s made all of us look like we are unreliable. On the whole companies I owe money have been sympathetic and understanding.

“But how long are they going to continue being sympathetic for?”

Ms John said she was offered no guarantees of being paid after contacting Dr Clarke’s personal assistant.

Dr Clarke has refused to speak publicly or to The Bucks Herald since the saga began last year.

Mr Bercow’s letter in full:

I am contacting you via this open letter in the Bucks Herald as my private representations to The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital have resulted in something of an impasse.

This is not a course of action I take lightly; as Member of Parliament for Buckingham I am used to mediating between individuals and organisations discreetly for the benefit of my constituents.

However, you have left me no choice.

I recently met with my constituent, Rosalyn John, and four others who were made redundant from The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in October 2012.

My constituent has not received the redundancy money she is owed by the hospital, nor have her former colleagues.

The small group I met calculate that they are collectively owed £20,000 by the hospital in notice pay, redundancy pay or both. It is my understanding that the hospital had previously failed to pay members of staff on time and eventually made 83 people redundant in October.

Many of these people have not received the money they are due and are experiencing significant financial hardship, debt and adversely affected credit ratings.

As a local MP and representative of some of the former employees of The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital, I am alarmed that you have apparently failed to honour your commitment to pay your former staff the money they are owed.

I am advised that the hospital has continued to ignore the approaches of former staff and has failed to respond to multiple letters from Unison’s legal officers.

Moreover, I understand that you have had the temerity to accuse those who are seeking their wages of harassing you. Whilst I sympathise with any business facing financial difficulties, I am not in a position to know the full background to this case because the hospital, though approached by me, has been unforthcoming.

The central issue is that these individuals have both a moral and legal right to be paid.

It is simply unacceptable to continue to treat your former staff in this way.

I understand the hospital building was recently sold for £2.5 million. I appeal to you to speak publicly about what you plan to do to address your former employees’ grievances. Of one thing you can be sure.

The issue will not go away. My constituents will not go away. I will not go away until I am satisfied that they have received the payments they are owed.