• Bradford Teaching Hospitals FT will not go ahead with plans to set up new company
  • Hundreds of staff were opposed to plans amid fears about pay and pensions
  • Trust says it still faces “significant” financial challenges

A teaching trust has scrapped controversial plans to set up a subsidiary company — a move which campaigners hailed as “extremely good news” for NHS staff.

Mel Pickup, chief executive at Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, confirmed the FT would not go ahead with plans to establish Bradford Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd.

Hundreds of staff opposed the plans, which would outsource their roles to the new company. The staff claimed their salaries and pensions would suffer due to cost-cutting.

After more than 300 porters, cleaners domestic and catering staff held strike action earlier this summer, an indefinite walkout was scheduled for 26 August. That was eventually called off as talks between the parties progressed.

Ms Pickup told HSJ the trust’s board met last Friday to continue discussions around the new company for its estates, facilities and clinical engineering services.

She said: “The board, which has at its heart the need to provide high-quality, safe patient care, has decided not to continue with plans to create a new company.

“All staff employed within estates, facilities and clinical engineering will remain directly employed by BTHFT and not transfer to BHFML. The new company will not be established.”

She added the trust still faces “significant” financial challenges and the reasons for trying to establish the company remain unchanged. BTHFT recently admitted it may miss its deficit control total for 2019-20 as it tries to plug a £5.4m savings gap.

The decision follows Frimley Health FT’s announcement to rethink plans to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary company amid union opposition.

David Prentis, chief executive at trade union Unison, said: “This is extremely good news for the staff who will continue to be employed by the NHS.

“Splitting workers within the same trust between different employers makes no sense and adds further complications to patient care. It is time for NHS Improvement to stop trusts going ahead with these projects without staff support.

“This case sends a strong signal that the practice of creating subsidiary companies should be brought to an end completely.”