Trusts spending millions outsourcing staff to private companies

NHS trusts are shelling-out huge amounts of money on consultants who are advising trusts on the setting up of wholly owned subsidiaries.

Using a Freedom of Information request, UNISON has revealed that NHS trusts are spending millions of pounds outsourcing staff to new arms-length private companies, who appear appealing due to their ability to reduce their VAT payments, and cut the pay and pensions for any new staff recruited. The union claims that the health workers transferred tend to be the lowest paid within the NHS, such as porters and cleaners.

The amount spent by just 15 of the responding trusts is in excess of £3.2 million, with Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Birkenhead spending more than £661,000 establishing a wholly owned subsidiary. Meanwhile, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust have both already spent a minimum of £400,000 setting up subsidiaries.

Sara Gorton, head of health at UNISON, said: “The amount of public money being frittered away on transferring NHS staff to private companies is a disgrace, especially at a time when there’s such a huge squeeze on resources.

“These wholly owned subsidiaries are creating a two-tier workforce where new staff are likely to be far worse off in terms of their pay and pensions. There is also no evidence that these new companies improve efficiency or productivity. Porters, cleaners and other staff chose to be part of the NHS team, not to be contracted out and treated like second-class employees.”

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