Ex-NHS Employers director Sian Thomas defends scrapped HR membership model

Ex-NHS Employers director Sian Thomas has insisted her HR membership model is viable despite the flagship project she was championing being binned by health service chiefs.

The NHS Confederation – which represents hundreds of NHS trusts – pulled the plug on NHS Employers’ proposed pay-as-you-go scheme in March, despite having committed £3.4m to the project. Auditors were also called in to investigate the scheme’s financial management and governance.

The move was made after fewer than 20 trusts had signed up to the HR services scheme and the Department of Health’s decision to re-tender the NHS Jobs website, which was to be a key offering to members. Critics also accused the scheme’s pricing structure of being inflexible.

Thomas has now resigned from NHS Employers and set up a social enterprise called Synuron – offering similar employment services to trusts, as well as GPs and social care employers.

Services offered include criminal record checking, e-recruitment, a jobs board and an HR support hotline.

She denied the business model was flawed and said she has a “passion and belief” that the project would succeed. “I’m of the view that this scheme will make a huge difference and is an attractive proposition to the NHS,” she said.

Thomas – a former NHS HR director – said the NHS Confederation “had its own reasons” for scrapping the original project and her role as director was no longer appealing following its decision.

Six trusts had already signed up to Synuron, including Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and more have expressed interest, Thomas added.

NHS Employers confirmed the hunt was underway to recruit a new director. In the interim, the organisation will be led by core services director Gill Bellord and new deputy director Steve Griffin.

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