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UK — Government plans to privatise NHS Professionals opposed by Unison

06 August 2010

The government has announced plans to privatise NHS Professionals Ltd. a fully owned Government company that provides over 50,000 temporary NHS staff, eGov monitor reports.

NHS Professionals currently works with over 77 acute, mental health, foundation and primary care trusts. It provides a range of services, including nursing, medical, Allied Healthcare Professional and Administrative and Clerical staff to Trusts across England. The privatisation proposals fits with the government's policy to maximise the value of assets and commercial opportunities especially from â€ËÅ“Arm's Length Bodies’.

The Department of Health (DoH) has announced its intentions to hold meetings with private investors to discuss "options and opportunities", a statement from the DoH said.

Stakeholders are concerned that this privatisation plan might increase costs for NHS institutions especially when they are being asked to make significant savings.

Karen Jennings, Head of Unison Healthcare commented to Politics.co.uk. "the reason NHS Professionals Ltd exists today is because private agencies were ripping off hospitals by charging them outrageous fees for recruiting or finding staff for shifts."

"This proposal is purely about Tory (Conservative Party) plans to promote privatisation and hive off parts of the NHS to private companies, regardless of the consequences on patient care," she added.

In further comments to the Press Association she went on to add, "The NHS Constitution enshrined in law the right to consultation and yet, in writing to NHS managers, (NHS chief executive) Sir David Nicholson is working on the premise that the consultation is only about the best way to achieve pre-determined outcomes - this makes it nothing more than a paper exercise and a sham. We have asked for a response within seven days and if we are not happy with the reply we are reserving the right to issue urgent judicial review proceedings."

A Department of Health spokesman responded, "This is about exploring ways that the commercial skills of the independent sector can make NHS Professionals Ltd a more efficient business and save the NHS money. NHS Professionals Ltd is a business, not a public service, and like any business it must ensure its services are as efficient and effective as possible. We want to discuss options with potential independent sector investors that could help to achieve this, and ultimately improve services outcomes for patients."



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