NHS Professionals is in a stronger position to secure private sector investment thanks to moves to scrap pensions safeguards for staff outsourced from the NHS, the service’s departing chief executive has said.

Neil Lloyd was speaking to HSJ following the announcement that he is moving to a new role as chief operating officer of the £1bn UK subsidiary of global facilities services firm ISS.

He said the Department of Health was still seeking private sector investment in NHS Professionals, which provides temporary staffing to more than 80 trusts, a year after it decided to move to a more commercial business model.

He said: “The thing that has changed is [the government is] consulting on the fair deal.”

The “fair deal” requires companies to provide a broadly comparable pension to workers outsourced from the NHS. Many private companies say the relatively generous nature of NHS pensions means the deal puts them at a financial disadvantage.

NHS Professionals has a staff of 280 and, therefore, a significant NHS pension liability.

The Treasury launched a consultation on proposals to scrap the pensions “deal” this month.

NHS Professionals announced Mr Lloyd’s move at the same time as it released forecast results showing it expects to achieve profits for the year to 31 March 2011. This follows losses of £6.2m last year and £16m the year before.

A DH spokeswoman said it was exploring a “range of options, including private sector investment”, for NHS Professionals.