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Wholly owned subsidiary 'could save millions', NHS Trust chief executive claims

The chief executive of the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust (FHFT) has said job security could be threatened if the trust cannot set up a wholly owned subsidiary.

The trust, which runs Wexham Park Hospital and Ascot’s Heatherwood Hospital, wants to transfer staff in non-clinical roles including housekeeping, portering and security to a new company.

Protesters hit out at the move, accusing the trust of ‘creeping towards privatisation’ during a series of protests last month.

But FHFT chief executive Neil Dardis told a meeting at Slough Borough Council on Tuesday (Sep10) that action is needed to tackle a £24 million deficit in trust funds.

Mr Dardis told the council’s Health and Scrutiny Panel: “This would save the organisation something in the order of £45 million over the next five years.

“This is probably the single most important action we could take to eradicate and tackle our underlying deficit and enable us to invest in those aspirations of the future.”

The chief executive also guaranteed no job losses if staff are transferred to the new company, which will be 100 per cent owned by the trust.

He added: “If we don’t do this it might threaten job security for our staff and we’d have to look elsewhere for financial savings.”

But Cllr Pavitar Mann (Lab, Britwell and Northborough) told the hospital bosses that workers were concerned the move would create a two-tier workforce and strip them of their status as NHS staff.

She said: “There’s an emotional issue here because some of our residents are very proud to be working for the NHS.

“That’s nothing that you can measure in terms of monetary value but it means a hell of a lot to them personally.”

FHFT chairman Pradip Patel said the pensions of NHS staff affected by the move would be protected but admitted they would no longer be classified as NHS workers if it goes ahead.

The trust has submitted its proposals and is now waiting on approval from the NHS regulator.

A formal consultation will be carried out with staff once approval is granted, Mr Patel added.

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