NHS employers across the UK should copy an HR shared services model implemented by three trusts in Cheshire, according to an expert adviser.
Peter Reilly, director of HR research at independent think-tank the Institute of Employment Studies, deemed Cheshire’s approach to joining up HR services highly successful and capable of leading the way for the 600 NHS trusts in the UK.
Shared HR services were introduced across all three Cheshire NHS bodies last year to improve efficiency and provide a better service to staff and patients.
“There is evidence that says more effective people management delivers benefits for patients,” Reilly told Personnel Today. ‘”In being more explicit about what the HR service was, offering a common service across trusts, and having better customer understanding, HR services at Cheshire are more commercial and cost aware.
“Given that there aren’t many examples of NHS organisations doing shared services, and seemingly being successful, Cheshire could be used as a benchmark across the NHS,” he added.
The vision of public sector bodies sharing back-office departments such as HR was first outlined in the 2004 Gershon Review, which encouraged organisations to save money on wages. Many government departments have since gone down the shared services route, including the Department for Work and Pensions and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
But over the past few years, the Department of Health has decentralised decision-making for local organisations, and so did not force NHS trusts to move to shared services. As such, Reilly said HR sharing in the NHS was rare.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “There isn’t any guidance centrally that NHS trusts should go down the shared services route. There is an obligation on them to provide value for money, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they need to have shared services.”