Chesterfield Royal Hospital pauses plans to set up controversial company

According to Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Derbyshire Support and Facilities Services would safeguard services, protect jobs for hundreds of people and save money.
According to Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Derbyshire Support and Facilities Services would safeguard services, protect jobs for hundreds of people and save money.

The trust which runs Chesterfield Royal Hospital has paused its plans to set up an independent company.

In July, the board of directors at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust approved controversial proposals to create Derbyshire Support and Facilities Services (DSFS) – which would be 100 per cent owned by the organisation.

Seven hundred staff – who work in IT, finance, procurement, medical engineering and estates and facilities – were told they would move into the subsidiary company, from December 1.

READ MORE: Hundreds of NHS workers in Chesterfield will be moved to independent company

Now, the national regulator NHS Improvement has ordered NHS trusts to ‘pause’ their plans for wholley-owned subsidiary companies and and wait for new guidance to be issued.

Simon Morritt, chief executive at the Royal, said: “The board of directors took the difficult decision to create a subsidiary because we believe, in a changing and challenging NHS environment, that it is a key factor in keeping services and jobs ‘in-house’, protecting them from outsourcing and potential job losses – along with delivering a portion of the £7.9million savings target we have been set by NHS Improvement this year.

“The decision to postpone our company’s ‘go-live’ date will impact on our financial plans, although NHS Improvement acknowledge this and we will have a discussion with them about our financial position in November.

“We know that this delay is not ideal for any of the 700 staff affected. It means that there’s a longer wait before we can tell them what happens next.

“Once the revised national policy is available we can assess our plans for DSFS against it.

“The regulator has also provided us with a guarantee that they will make sure we are first in line for a review under these new national provisions.

“At this stage we will decide the next steps in terms of re-starting the process of implementing DSFS – and in the meantime we will continue to support the staff who work in these services, all of whom remain a vital and valued part of the Chesterfield Royal ‘family’.”

A trust spokesperson said the organisation was more than halfway through a consultation with staff about their transfer into the subsidiary company.

NHS Improvement has agreed that the trust can conclude its transfer consultation with workers, which has an end date of Friday.

Campaigners against the proposed subsidiary company believe it is ‘a form of backdoor privatisation’ and fear it will have ‘direct consequences for healthcare staff and potentially damaging ramifications for the NHS’.