Protesters holding a banner that says No 2 Subcos

The NHS continues to face unprecedented financial pressures. Some trusts in England are seeking to save money by creating wholly owned subsidiary, also known as subcos, companies to deliver services, including facilities and estates.

UNISON is opposed to the creation of subsidiary companies (subcos) being set up in the NHS. We have responded to NHS Improvement’s consultation on the topic, and have laid out a number of reasons why the recent growth in subsidiaries is damaging for staff, patients and the wider NHS.

  • We have highlighted the need for regulators to apply more stringent tests when assessing trust plans for subcos, which have been set up as a tax dodge and to make savings off the backs of NHS staff
  • We believe no subco should be allowed to go ahead unless a trust can demonstrate that it has the active backing of its staff. UNISON is calling for all recently established subsidiaries to be re-investigated against the new tougher regulatory regime that will hopefully result from this consultation.
  • We will continue to fight against the creation of these companies, keeping members updated at every stage.

What are subcos?

A subco 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.

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?

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. We are raising the issue with political parties and MPs to get them involved in local campaigns.

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.