PROTESTORS say a hospital trust's decision not to outsource its services to a company marks a victory for their anti-privatisation campaign.

Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust opened up its board meeting to the public this week, with people from unions, the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, People Before Profit and Keep Our NHS Public attending.

And the board faced a grilling over whether to outsource the trust's procurement department  to government services company Serco, which has been heavily criticised recently over community healthcare in Ipswich and electronic tagging.

The trust later announced it had decided against the deal.

John Hamilton from People Before Profit said: "Lots of people turned up and asked some excellent questions.

"I think it was quite a shock to the board that people were so concerned."

He added: "We don't think it should be privatised at all. We don't think any of the NHS should be privatised.

"They talked about being advised to get best value but various speakers said they don't know if that's going to be the case."

An online petition against the move has attracted nearly 500 signatures.

In a statement, the trust said: "In reaching a decision the board firstly considered the potential economic benefits from working with Serco.  The board decided that the case made did not represent value for taxpayers’ money.

"The board does share the concerns which have been raised about Serco’s reputation. 

"If Serco had passed the economic test, the trust would have needed to know the outcome of the central government review into the organisation before making a final decision on whether to proceed."