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NHS Trusts: Wholly Owned Subsidiary Companies

Volume 638: debated on Tuesday 20 March 2018

4. What estimate he has made of the number of NHS trusts that have established wholly owned subsidiary companies. (904463)

NHS Improvement has informed the Department that 42 foundation trusts have reported consolidated subsidiaries, but there might be a few instances of subsidiaries being too small to be consolidated.

What assessment has the Minister made of the impact on staff morale, retention and recruitment where trusts have set up wholly subsidiary companies and introduced a two-tier system whereby new staff terms and conditions are not part of the NHS “Agenda for Change” or the NHS pension scheme? Is this the back door to privatisation?

Had the hon. Lady been able to attend the recent Westminster Hall debate on this issue, she would have heard that in the trust under discussion the staff survey showed an improvement in responses as a result of the subsidiary because many staff valued the flexibilities in the new contracts that the subsidiary could offer.

The Minister may be in denial about privatisation, but is it not the case that the question-and-answer document from North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said that its subsidiary organisation could be taken over by a private company in the future? If the Minister wants to put these privatisation stories to bed, will he rule out the possibility of any of the subsidiary companies’ being taken over by private organisations in the future?

The party that is in denial is the Labour party, which, in 2006, passed the legislation through which subsidiaries could be offered. If the hon. Gentleman does not believe me, perhaps he should listen to NHS Providers, which says:

“It is…inaccurate and misleading to say that the establishment of wholly owned subsidiaries is a new phenomenon or being pursued to avoid VAT, privatise the NHS, or to reduce terms and conditions for NHS staff.”

Labour Members should stop scaremongering over legislation that their party actually passed.