Health bosses planning new company to run key NHS services in Sheffield

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Health bosses are planning to set up a new company to run key NHS services in Sheffield.

Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust is planning to set up the new company in the next few months, with its current board of directors becoming shareholders.

They say that growing competition for contracts mean the move is necessary - and claim the new organisation can run with ‘reduced external bureaucracy and regulation’.

Union leaders have raised concerns that the move will result in poorer terms and conditions for workers, with the trust report saying the new company ‘would be able to determine its own salary/employment terms and non-pay costs’.

The report said the new company could be in a position to provide services from October.

It said the trust have lost out on £5m worth of deals in the last six months ‘largely through being uncompetitive on price’.

Existing trust services that could be first to be moved into the control of the new company include the Clover Group of GP practices - Darnall Primary Care Centre, Highgate Surgery, Jordanthorpe Health Centre, and the Mulberry Practice.

Other services that could be provided by the company include supported living services and respite care.

Kevan Taylor, chief executive of the trust, said: “A decision whether to go ahead with the new company has not yet been taken. Should the trust decide to move ahead with the formation of a new company, then all relevant issues will receive full, detailed and careful consideration.”

Charlie Carruth, regional organiser for Unison, said: “It is a race towards the bottom. If you have qualified staff, that comes at a price. If staff feel they are going to get better pay elsewhere, they will walk away.

“Once companies like this get set up, the terms and conditions for contracted staff tend to worsen, while pay and conditions for senior managers who are overseeing things tend to improve.

“We have to try to maintain the quality. Is there a line going to be drawn once you start trying to outbid lower bids?

“It is a dilemma, we accept that. But we don’t necessarily see this as the answer.”