Thousands of government HR jobs could be at risk after plans to outsource services to India were revealed.
Last week, the Department of Health (DoH) confirmed it was increasing the level of offshoring within the NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) – which provides finance, accounting and payroll services to health service trusts – from 37% to 60%.
The move was described as “primarily economic” by a DoH spokeswoman, who said it would increase savings within SBS – a joint venture between the NHS and private firm Xansa – by up to £30m over 10 years.
“Streamlining back-office functions such as finance, payroll and HR reduces bureaucracy and generates substantial savings for reinvestment in frontline services and patient care,” the spokeswoman added.
DoH deputy director of finance Peter Coates was reported as saying the number of jobs outsourced to India could “go higher”. He said the scheme was seen as a test case for the rest of central government.
However, Coates added that the main constraint on offshoring was keeping jobs in the UK.
The DoH added that the increase in outsourcing “should not have any effect on existing staff”.
But Karen Jennings, head of health at public sector union Unison, said: “It is outrageous that Peter Coates should be sending UK jobs to India without talking to staff and unions first.”