NHS staffing agency moves towards privatisation

The government is pressing ahead with the sale of NHS Professionals, the state-owned agency that manages more than 90,000 doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, with a deal expected to be announced by the autumn.

NHS Professionals was created in 2001 to provide a “bank” of medics who could work flexibly across the health service. It is used by about a quarter of the roughly 250 NHS trusts in England and saves the NHS £70m a year by supplying staff more cheaply than private sector agencies.

Bidders including private equity firms and recruitment agencies such as Staffline, the FTSE 250 company that also runs probation and welfare to work services for the unemployed, are understood to have submitted final offers last month worth about £50m for a 75 per cent share in the business.

The government is understood to be keeping a 25.1 per cent stake in the company, with the option of selling the remaining stake within three to five years.

The government wants to cut back the use of temporary workers and is keen to build up NHSP, which is currently a limited company owned by the Department of Health that employs 506 people.

A statement by Philip Dunne, minister of state for health, in November said the partial sale was required to bring in “substantial investment” to improve and expand the service. “We want to see the company take advantage of this opportunity to expand its business, acting as a true alternative to expensive agencies,” he said.

Article from the Financial Times, 26 June 2017.