Possible NHS Professionals Privatisation Angers Unions

Unison is concerned that costs to the National Health Service will increase if the not for profit body is privatised as companies will want a ‘piece of the action’. However, private sector medical agencies believe that any privatisation would help to improve efficiency in the NHS and actually reduce operational costs. The cost of administering NHS Professionals is thought to be significant and in the present economic environment the Government is willing to reduce costs and pass responsibility to the private sector.

The Head of Health at Unison, Karen Jennings, said that “The whole reason that NHS Professionals was set up was because private agencies were ripping off hospitals by charging them outrageous fees for recruiting or finding staff for shifts. It makes no sense at all to bring back private companies who will want their slice of the action in return. At a time when hospitals are being forced to make huge savings, pushing up staffing costs unnecessarily is very damaging. A sell-off may bring a short-term cash injection, but will cost NHS trusts vast sums in the longer term.”

The Head of Employment Services at NHS Employers, Karen Charman, said that “Employers need to improve their understanding of what drives their dependency on agency staff. To meet the challenges facing the National Health Service one aim must be to reduce the need for temporary staffing by ensuring that, as far as is possible, permanent staffing levels become adequate to cover even peaks and troughs. The Department of Health has announced a transparent process and we will await its results with interest.”

The Department of Health is expected to announce further details of any planned privatisation later in the year following a consultation period with managers and business figures.

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