Jeremy Hunt is quietly selling off a crucial part of the NHS that’s been saving us millions

JEREMY HUNT Conservative Ralf Little
Support us and go ad-free

Doctors expressed their outrage on 26 June as they discovered the Department of Health (DoH) run by Jeremy Hunt will push ahead with a deal to sell off up to 75% of NHS Professionals – a staffing agency which reportedly saves the taxpayer around £70m a year.

Savings

The DoH owns NHS Professionals (NHSP), a private limited company created to supply a bank of over 90,000 medical staff across different NHS Trusts. The flexible arrangements apparently save the government £70m a year in costs while non-government owned private staffing agencies can be around 30% more expensive.

Consultancy Deloitte is running a sales process for a private supplier to buy up the majority share. And it could be sold for around £50m. In November 2016, when the private deal was originally initiated, the Minister of State for Health Philip Dunne said:

We want to see the company take advantage of this opportunity to expand its business, acting as a true alternative to expensive agencies

“Utterly ludicrous”

But doctors have hit out at the move, expressing their disapproval on Twitter:

Some also suggested there was only one direction the sell-off was heading:

Nurse and midwife Sarah Holmes MBE, meanwhile, described it as:

yet another example of profit being made exploiting scarce NHS resources and people

NHS staffing crisis

The move comes as warnings mount that a staffing crisis is looming. A crisis which is leading to deteriorating hospital conditions. A problem which could mean a very difficult winter for medical staff and patients. Especially as one in nine nursing posts are already unfilled.

Agency staff currently cost the NHS £4bn according [paywall] to The Financial Times. The argument from government is that more investment will expand the capacity of NHSP to deliver cost-effective staffing. It remains unknown, however, whether the sell-off will enable savings.

Prior to the general election, Sky News identified Staffline as a potential bidder. Staffline already runs welfare and probation programmes for the government. Although their relative cost is fairly opaque.

Privatisation concerns

The increasing privatisation of the heath service is causing alarm amongst health professionals and campaigners. And despite excuses provided by the government, increasing cash for private companies has simply gone hand in hand with longer waiting times and reduced staff numbers.

Cat Hobbs from campaign group We Own It sees only one party benefiting. She says:

The government has no evidence and no mandate for privatising our NHS. Yet [Jeremy] Hunt is picking it apart for profit, propped up by consultancies like McKinsey and Deloitte who make millions from the process.

This is the latest in a long line of measures that Hunt and his party have rolled out to place the running of the NHS in the hands of private companies; often done beyond the scrutiny of parliament. And with plenty to distract the public coming out of Westminster, we must watch the minister like a hawk.

Get Involved!

– Read more Canary articles on Health, and the NHS.

– You can also take action with Keep Our NHS Public.

– And furthermore support us if you appreciate the work we do.

Featured image via YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed