'A sad day' as hundreds of Chesterfield NHS workers move to independent company

Union bosses have voiced concern after more than 700 staff at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust moved to a new independent company.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 2:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 3:04 pm
The transfer of staff has proved controversial.

The 730 workers - who work in IT, finance, procurement, clinical engineering and estates and facilities - transferred to the subsidiary company, called Derbyshire Support and Facilities Services (DSFS), on Monday.

According to the trust, the staff will remain part of the 'family' and have moved with their NHS terms and conditions 'fully protected'.

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'This is bad news for staff and patients'

Carol Brown, UNISON regional organiser, said: "This is a sad day not only for service users of Chesterfield Royal Hospital, but for the dedicated staff who will be transferred out of their beloved NHS into a private company.

"The trust has decided to go down this route and sell off its staff to save money.

"By lowering the standard of living for new staff in the area, it will have a knock-on effect on their spending power in local shops.

"We don't want Chesterfield to turn into charity and pound-shop land, but when people have limited disposable income, that's what happens to town centres."

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton added: "This is bad news for staff and patients.

"The changes are built on savings from employing new recruits on worse pay, conditions and pension scheme, as well as slashing the trust's VAT liability.

"The money will almost certainly not go into the pockets of staff, who need it most.

"The effect will be that more of our experienced staff leave an overstretched service and that putting the service outside the NHS will have a longer-term impact on patient care."

Trust hits back

Lee Outhwaite, director of finance and contracting at the trust, said: "We have been consulting with staff, union representatives and all of our stakeholders since May last year.

"The board of directors made this difficult decision in July 2018, believing that it is the best way to safeguard a range of valuable and essential services.

"In a challenging NHS climate the company is set to protect jobs from the risk of third party outsourcing, reduced staffing numbers and even potential redundancies."

Mr Outhwaite added: "Our new subsidiary, 100 per cent owned by Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, remains very much a part of the trust's 'family'.

"As such, our ambition is to provide the best possible services to patients and colleagues, and importantly to make sure DSFS is a great company for people to be part of - where everyone is appreciated for the valuable work they do."

A spokesperson for the trust added: "DSFS will work alongside the trust's clinical portfolio - making sure that patients and staff have access to first-class healthcare facilities.

"Services will operate to best practice quality standards in a cost effective way - giving the public value for the money they put into the NHS."