Protests in York and Chesterfield against moves by two NHS trusts to set up wholly owned subsidiaries to avoid paying tax will be staged by health unions, including Unite, tomorrow (Wednesday 25 July).

Unite, the country’s largest union with 100,000 members in the health service, has waged an extensive campaign against the creation of such subsidiaries which could lead to a ‘Pandora’s Box of Carillion-type meltdowns’, with the adverse knock-on effect of job losses and salami slicing of service provision.

The Department of Health and Social Care announced recently that it was consulting on this issue with a view to strengthen ‘central oversight’ of wholly owned subsidiaries by asking all NHS trusts to report to them via NHS Improvement of their intention to set one up - but Unite said that the creation of such entities should be halted.

Unite has been concerned that the trusts are forming these wholly owned subsidiary companies in England so that they can register for VAT exemption and compete on a level playing field with commercial competitors who register for VAT exemption for their work in the NHS, when NHS trusts can’t.

Health workers, fearful for their jobs and the future of services, will be protesting at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Chesterfield Road, Calow, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S44 5BL at 10.00 and in York at  The Boardroom, York Hospital, Wigginton Road, York, YO31 8HE at 07.45.

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “The government’s proposal for a consultation on wholly owned subsidiaries is a step in the right direction finally, but it falls far short from what Unite is calling for.

“We want that HMRC to close the tax loophole so NHS trusts are not forced to consider outsourcing NHS services to private limited companies in the form of a private wholly-owned subsidiary of NHS trusts. 

“We want the new secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock to enforce a moratorium on the further creation of other wholly owned subsidiary companies while this consultation is taking place and for those that are in the process of being created to be paused while the consultation takes place.  

“We also think any review should go further so it investigates outsourcing, procurement and commissioning by NHS trusts in England; and seeks the views of patients, employees, local authorities, and health and social care stakeholders.

“The review should aim to establish a fair and transparent ethical outsourcing procurement and commissioning framework which will avoid the mistakes of the past.”

Recently, following protests, the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust backed down on its plan for a wholly owned subsidiary.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065


Twitter: @unitetheunion

Facebook: unitetheunion1


Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.