Shared Services and Outsourcing in the NHS

Being a former Non Executive at a NHS Trust, I have some understanding of the political challenges, culture and attitudes within the NHS. Within the UK public sector, it is important to note that the most notable offshore outsourcing transaction is the Department of Health – Steria joint venture offering HR and Finance services to NHS entities. The take up has been better than any other offshoring venture within the public sector.

NHS entities understand the need to cut costs, and the commercial realities of running a business whilst providing high levels of service to patients. A recent report published by the Foundation Trust Network and commissioned by the Department of Health, stated that NHS back office savings of around £600m could be made through shared services and redirected to frontline health services. This would be through sharing services in finance, human resources, information management and technology, procurement, estates management, governance and risk and payroll.

A damning report written by the NHS for the NHS, speaks of the need to standardise & simplify, and shared services will act as further impetus for Healthcare leads to consider new and innovative models to provide cost reduction in back office areas, and ensure that front line services are not cut. Given the recent CSR, and the pressures on NHS spending, the question is not “if” but “how” each NHS entity will drive savings in its back office.

Expect changes, and expect them quickly!

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