MP urges hospital bosses to abandon plans to “privatise” some services

MP urges hospital bosses to abandon plans to “privatise” some services

By Dave Doyle | 28/09/2018

MP urges hospital bosses to abandon plans to “privatise” some services
MP John Healey

AN ANGRY MP has urged hospital bosses to abandon plans to “privatise” parts of the service, accusing them of a “tax dodge”.

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey publicly opposed the move this week, after raising his concerns privately with top directors.

If approved, the proposals would see a wholly-owned subsidiary company created, to which porters’ and cleaners’ contracts would be transferred.

Union reps worry about worsening work conditions for those affected, and thus a decline in standards.

The board was due to vote on the proposals on Tuesday, but an order last week from NHS Improvement - the national body helping trusts to manage challenges - blocked any decision-making.

The memo asked directors around the UK to “pause any current plans to create new subsidiaries or change existing subsidiaries”.

It added: “We’ll be consulting on a new regulatory approach to this in October and, following the consultation, we will be issuing new guidance.”

Mr Healey said: “The Rotherham Hospital board must now set aside any plans it has for setting up an NHS subsidiary company.

“Since the idea was first floated, I’ve voiced my concerns directly with the chairman and chief executive.

“It would create a two-tier workforce and smacks of a dodge to avoid paying VAT.

“So I welcome the NHS nationally calling a halt on these local hospital companies.”

He added: “Labour has repeatedly warned that thousands of NHS staff would in effect see their jobs privatised, with their national pay and conditions put at risk.

“It’s a sign of just how stretched NHS finances have become that hospitals are reaching for ever more complicated schemes to try to save money.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, hospital trust chief executive Louise Barnett briefly mentioned the memo, before chairman Martin Havenhand moved on to the next item.

Mr Healey said the enforced halt should encourage directors to consider other options.

Labour colleagues have written to the Government, demanding a block on wholly-owned subsidiaries and a review of hospital tax requirements.

Barnsley Hospital NHS Trust established Barnsley Facilities Ltd last year, transferring its health and safety, fire, security, procurement, estates and facilities staff to the private firm.

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