Shared services integration

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2012 Health Care Service Group Conference
24 November 2011
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the damaging effects to patients and NHS staff through the privatisation of NHS shared services in England.

Since 2005, shared services such as finance, accountancy, human resources, payroll and family health services have been contracted out to NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS). NHS SBS is a joint venture between the NHS and the privately owned company Steria. However conference notes that despite concerted lobbying from the Department of Health under successive governments, large numbers of trusts have resisted pressure to outsource these services.

This reluctance can largely be attributed to widely reported service failures, with NHS SBS failing to provide either the quality of service, or efficiency savings originally promised. Despite these failings, the election of the Tory led coalition has seen the contracting out of services going a step further, with the QIPP (Quality Innovation Productivity and Prevention) report (Back Office Efficiency and Management Optimisation, November 2010) urging trusts to consider private sector providers completely outside the NHS. The Health and Social Care Bill has further facilitated this free market free for all, by giving increasing freedoms for Foundation Trusts and privately run commissioning consortia to set up their own subsidiary companies and joint ventures.

This conference notes the work UNISON has done in highlighting these shortcomings and the threats to our members’ jobs, terms and conditions. These include:

• The UNISON campaign against the Health and Social Care Bill and the privatisation of NHS services;

• Procurement training to assist UNISON branches to challenge decisions to outsource such services;

• UNISON reports, surveys and newsletter articles educating UNISON branches, activists and members of the threat posed by both NHS SBS and other joint ventures and private contractors;

• Local media campaigns, such as that conducted by East Midlands Region against the contracting out of services to NHS SBS.

This conference calls on the Service Group Executive to continue to:

1) Campaign against the privatisation of the NHS;

2) Advocate the case for keeping all NHS services in-house;

3) Publicise the failings and shortcomings of private contractors;

4) Equip branches with the means to challenge decisions to contract out services to NHS SBS or other private contractors.