Hospital trust accused of ‘lack of transparency’

BRADFORD South MP Judith Cummins has called on the chair of the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to halt plans to create a ‘wholly-owned subsidiary company’. 

Staff who work in the estates, facilities and clinical engineering departments at the Trust, which includes the Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) and St Luke’s Hospital, are currently embroiled in strike action against the plans. 

Unison fears the transfer will strip workers, including porters, domestic and security staff, of the protections they have as NHS employees.

The trust has denied it is privatising services and says the new company is the “best way of continuing to provide high quality care for patients”.

In her letter to Dr Max Mclean, Mrs Cummins says herself and John Grogan were given incorrect figures regarding the potential financial savings from the plans.

She writes: “I therefore remain seriously concerned with the lack of transparency in the Trust’s business case.

“I repeat my view that a decision as crucial as this must be properly consulted on, be fully transparent, and made in the open. I do not believe this has happened.

“In light of the above concerns, I yet again call upon the Trust to desist from this poor decision.”

Mrs Cummins calls for the full business case for the creation of the company to be “immediately paused, reviewed and opened up to wider public scrutiny”.

“The Trust must make clear to me, their staff, their representatives, where exactly it believes the savings and predicted earnings will come from and how this fits in with the revised guidance on VAT avoidance by NHS trusts.

“More generally, I again call on the Trust to listen to the concerns of workers and their trade union representatives and drop these plans once and for all.

“The workers you are proposing to move out of the NHS are an essential part of our health service and are rightly concerned that they will face a weakening of their terms and conditions in the future.

“Moreover, the Trust must address the significant risk that any future UK trade agreement could prevent these services ever being brought back in house.”

In response, Sandra Shannon, Deputy Chief Executive of the Trust, said: “We are establishing Bradford Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd (BHFML) – a 100 oer cent NHS-owned company – to provide our highly skilled, knowledgeable and motivated Estates, Facilities and Clinical Engineering staff with a real business opportunity to grow and sustain the vital support services they deliver and provide a secure future for them all.

“By doing this we can develop a successful company which is better placed to work with small and medium-sized businesses locally which are not usually able to work with the NHS due to their size. By growing the business it will also mean we can provide additional employment, training and development for local people.

“We are committed to giving every member of staff the security of their existing NHS terms and conditions for 25 years and we are currently exploring all legal options available to lock this guarantee. We continue to engage with Unison and discuss options with them to reach agreement to bring the industrial action to an end.

“NHS Improvement’s endorsement of our proposals to develop the company was not based on the potential tax arrangements but on our business plan which demonstrated a number of significant business opportunities. The long-term development and sustainability of these services for both patients and staff has always been our reason for doing this.”

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