Commissioning

25.09.18

NHS trusts told to stop setting up controversial subsidiaries

NHS hospital trusts have been told to stop setting up private companies and transferring staff to them by NHS Improvement.

The regulator has ordered trusts to “pause any current plans to create new subsidiaries or change existing subsidiaries” whilst it consults a new regulatory approach in October, with new guidance issued once this consultation ends.

NHS trusts have used subsidiaries to employ staff such as cleaners and porters for several years, and around 35 trusts have already set up a “subco” and moved non-medical staff into them.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called the decision a “victory” for NHS trusts.

He said: “These companies undermine national pay and terms and conditions in the NHS and create a two-tier workforce.

“Potentially thousands of NHS staff would see their jobs effectively privatised and their terms and conditions put at risk,” he said.

Unions have criticised trusts using subsidiaries as damaging and leading to a “two-tier” NHS workforce where some staff in the same role are paid less.

Unite national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett, said: “We regard this as a significant victory in Unite’s long-running campaign to stop the creation of such subsidiaries - and then to reverse them.

“We believe this is in the best interest of patient safety and our members who wish to remain employed by the NHS and not outsourced to an outfit where their pay and employment conditions could be seriously eroded.”

In July, the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh foundation trust abandoned plans to move 900 personnel into a new private firm called WWL Solutions.

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Image credit - MartinPrescott

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