Harrogate Hospital consult on plans to launch NHS-owned company

Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust are consulting on launching an NHS owned 'commercial arm' to the Trust.
Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust are consulting on launching an NHS owned 'commercial arm' to the Trust.

Plans to launch an NHS-owned company to run the estates and facilities at Harrogate District Hospital have this week been proposed to staff in a consultation.

Executive Board members at Harrogate District NHS Foundation Trust (HDFT) have started consultations to set up a ‘wholly-owned subsidiary’ with the aim of generating income for reinvestment into the Trust.

The plan would affect just over 300 staff members involved in services such as catering, portering, and managing the car park.

Chief Operating Officer at HDFT, Rob Harrison said: “It’s a wholly owned company by the Trust, it’s our thing, it’s not something we’re floating off into the private sector, it’s very much about retaining the ethos and the culture of how this organisation works but framing it within a company that focusses on actually doing what isn’t really core business for us as a hospital, what we’re here to do is to look after patients and that’s the focus.

"This allows us to set up a structure of a corporate business and the focus of that is to provide a healthcare facility so not the clinical delivery but the ability to make sure that the estate is fit for purpose, that the portering service works, that it’s clean, that the food is provided in the right way both to patients but also to staff.

"By having then the right structure and the right people involved in that it can also develop a bit of a commercial arm, so it can then generate new income streams from other work which then ultimately we can pile back into the Trust, because the profits from the company come back to the Trust.”

The concept is not a new thing among NHS Trusts, and is technically referred to as setting up an Alternative Service Delivery Model (ASDM).

According to Executive Members at Harrogate, ASDMs have already been set up in Barnsley, Bolton, Blackpool, Gateshead and Airedale.

The decision to set up an ASDM has not always proved popular, with the Yorkshire arm of the GMB Union slamming the move in Airedale.

However, Mr Harrison, reassured that staff in Harrogate would not face any changes to their current employment conditions as a result of the plans.

Instead, current staff will have the choice of remaining on their current NHS employment terms or to move over to the terms that new employees of the company will be offered.

Deputy Chief Executive and Finance Director at HDFT, Jonathan Coulter, said: “The intention is, having consulted with the staff, at the end of November we will take the case back to the Trust board and say OK are we happy now pressing the button. There’s then a period of time getting it all organised. The timeline we’re working to at the moment is that this will be in place by the end of March.”