Wholly owned subsidiaries in the NHS

The NHS continues to face unprecedented financial pressures.

Some trusts in England are seeking to save money by creating wholly owned subsidiary companies to deliver services, including facilities and estates.

What are wholly owned subsidiaries?

A wholly owned subsidiary is an organisation set up at arm’s length but still owned by the trust. It means that those services currently provided in-house will be provided by a separate company that will employ staff who currently work for the NHS.

What’s the issue?

Trusts claim that money will be saved by exploiting a tax loophole, but the major savings will come from employing new staff on non-NHS terms and conditions with no access to the NHS Pension Scheme.

UNISON believes this is a form of backdoor privatisation, with direct consequences for healthcare staff and potentially damaging ramifications for the NHS in England.

What is UNISON doing?

We are raising the issue with political parties and MPs to get them involved in local campaigns. This includes supporting early day motion 802, which helps us highlight the issue to politicians, attract media coverage and maybe even force a parliamentary debate. But more MPs need to sign it – please ask your MP to support it using the tool below.

UNISON is working closely with branches that are affected by plans to set up wholly owned subsidiary companies, with targeted resources deployed to assist local campaigning.

UNISON is lobbying the national NHS bodies to clamp down on this behaviour by trusts.

The union is working to shine a light on trust plans by getting the media to take up stories on the development of wholly owned subsidiary companies.

If your trust is threatening to set up a wholly owned subsidiary company make sure you notify your regional office as a matter of urgency.

Resources