Government u-turns on sale of NHS staffing agency

7 Sep 17

The government has abandoned plans to sell off the NHS’s in-house staffing agency after the body improved its financial performance.

Health minister Philip Dunne today announced the u-turn saying it had been made after “careful consideration”.

In a statement Dunne said: “Our priority throughout this process has been to ensure the best possible outcome for NHS Professionals and our NHS as a whole.

“So, I am pleased that the company’s improved performance means it will be able to modernise and improve services to NHS trusts, while remaining under public ownership."

He added: “This will not only help in our drive to reduce the use of expensive agency staff across the NHS – which has further reduced by 22% in the first quarter of this year – but will also mean that savings can be reinvested in frontline services for the benefit of patients."

NHS Professionals was established as a limited liability company by the last Labour government in 2010.

It currently has a bank of 90,000 workers filling more than two million shifts. It is believed it saves the NHS £70m every year on expensive private staff agencies.

The government began the process of privatising NHS Professionals in November last year. 

Its audited profit before tax for the year ended 31st March 2017 was 44% higher than in the previous year.

UNISON’s head of health Sara Gorton said: “The government has at last seen sense. NHS Professionals is an organisation that saves the health service money and ensures there are enough staff on wards."

Although, she added: "Despite many warnings, ministers have once again gone through a pointless exercise, wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers cash.

"Instead of filling the pockets of management consultants, this money could have been better spent improving services for patients.”

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