NHS trusts across England are spending millions of pounds outsourcing staff to new arms-length private companies, says UNISON today (Monday).
Using a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, UNISON has revealed that NHS trusts are shelling-out huge amounts of money on consultants. These companies are advising trusts on the setting up of wholly owned subsidiaries, to which staff are then outsourced.
UNISON says that these new companies appeal to NHS trusts because they can reduce their VAT payments, and cut the pay and pensions for any new staff recruited. The health workers that are being transferred tend to be the lowest paid within the NHS, such as porters and cleaners.
Only 21 out of 31 NHS trusts that UNISON approached complied with the FoI request – published to coincide with the start of its annual health conference – but the amount spent by just 15 of them is already in excess of £3.2 million.
Topping the list of high-spenders is Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Birkenhead, which spent more than £661,000 establishing a wholly owned subsidiary.
The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust have both already spent a minimum of £400,000 setting up subsidiaries. Meanwhile, Airedale NHS Trust in Yorkshire spent an estimated £343,000 outsourcing staff.
To put some perspective on the amount spent by some of these trusts, UNISON has found that the £3 million outlaid to date on transferring staff could have paid the annual salary of around 200 extra hospital cleaners*.
UNISON head of health Sara Gorton 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.”
Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
Airedale NHS Foundation Trust
Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust**
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation trust
Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust
The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Wholly owned subsidiary created?
Yes – PropCare
Yes – Gloucestershire Managed Services
Subject to a final decision by the trust board
Yes – AGH Solutions
Yes – Wiltshire Health and Care Limited Liability Partnership; Salisbury Trading Partnership; Sterile Supplies Ltd
Yes – Summerhill Supplies Ltd
Yes – BFW Management
Yes – County Durham and Darlington Services
Yes – WWL Solutions
Yes – Harrogate Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd
No, still considering
Yes – BWC Management Services Ltd
No, dropped plans
Yes – York Teaching Hospital Facilities Management Limited Liability Partnership
Yes – King’s Interventional Facilities Management
Yes – Simply Serve
Yes – QE Facilities
No, still considering
No, still considering
£403,000, further anticipated spend of £15,000
£12,000 to date,
expected expenditure £300,000
£167,905 (including VAT)
£41,921 to date, plus further expenditure of £25,829
£12,133 (excluding VAT)
Won’t disclose on grounds that the information is commercially sensitive
Will not disclose on grounds that the information is commercially sensitive
Established over three years ago but weren’t able to provide the cost at the time of publication
Currie & Brown
Sellick Partnership (Consultancy)
Ernst & Young
Attain Health Management Ltd
Bevan Brittan LLP
Deloitte (trust is unable to access the invoice to confirm amount paid)
Northumbria Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd
Bond Dickinson LLP