From Keighley News, January 4th, 2018
Written by Miran Rahman
KEIGHLEY'S MP revealed figures which he says show how a subsidiary company at Airedale Hospital would damage staff terms and conditions while harming the public purse. John Grogan said the figures were provided to him by a "senior hospital source", adding they include an estimate that the cost of setting up the new company would be at least £400,000.
But an Airedale NHS Foundation Trust spokesman countered: "We didn't intend to share all the information in the document publicly, as it's commercially sensitive in nature. We were protecting this information to make sure we could establish and successfully grow our subsidiary.
"The information in the document confirms it's not the intention to offer mediocre terms and conditions for new starters."
The subsidiary company is being established to run hospital facilities and procurement services at Airedale.
Mr Grogan said the figures passed to him are from the business case for this scheme.
“I see no reason why these figures shouldn't be made public," he said. "The subsidiary company will still, we're told, be in the NHS so why shouldn't the public have access to these figures?
"The document I've been sent admits ‘new staff will be recruited on new terms and conditions' and ‘there'll be two separate sets of terms and conditions for staff’, just as unions feared.
"It's clearly stated this ‘does present a risk in relation to future equal pay claims’.
"Amongst the plans floated in the document are changes to maternity, bereavement, holiday entitlement, compassionate leave and an idea of ‘initial periods of absence being unpaid, with increased sick pay entitlement being earned over the years'.
"Incentivising staff who are sick to come and work in a hospital doesn't sound like best practice to me.
"Total staff savings estimated over five years are over £1.3 million out of a total net revenue savings of over £7.5 million. The bulk of the revenue savings at over £4.5 million are identified as coming from purchasing savings.
"The suspicion has to be that most of these savings are VAT savings.
"And the costs of setting up the company are estimated at over £400,000, with annual running costs of around £300,000.
"I've met Health Minister Philip Dunne to express concerns that if trusts throughout the country continue setting up subsidiary companies there'll be a big loss of VAT revenue to the Exchequer, which could be used to fund NHS staff pay rises.
"I've been offered a meeting with Airedale NHS Foundation Trust representatives which I look forward to.”
The Airedale NHS Foundation Trust spokesman responded that the information seen by Mr Grogan was "indicative" and subject to consultation with unions.
She added: "The document outlines the People Strategy, which aims to position the subsidiary as a good employer within the local community.
"We've been clear that any savings we make on terms and conditions for new staff form part of the new subsidiary’s ability to be more efficient.
"We firmly believe the development of our wholly-owned subsidiary will enable us to employ more local people on good terms and make a greater contribution to the local economy, by allowing us more freedom to procure goods and services from local suppliers.
"The detail around running costs covers items that are part of the general running and governance of any company such as insurance and auditors.
"Again, these costs are estimates and don't refer to management costs."