NHS human resources outsourcing and shared services plans fall down after ‘wobble’ in market

NHS HR staff can breathe a sigh of relief after widespread outsourcing of their roles was ruled out by a senior figure last week.

Just half a dozen NHS trusts will sign up to outsourcing in the forseeable future after a significant “wobble” in the market, Personnel Today has been told.

Sian Thomas, deputy director at NHS Employers, which supports people management across all 600 NHS trusts, said the political will to decentralise decision-making across the health service would make outsourcing harder than ever.

“Two years ago, people did believe it might be easier to do shared services or outsourcing,” she said. “Where that’s changed in the past couple of years is in a focus to decentralise and to have less national decision-making for local organisations.

“This makes outsourcing hard, because one provider cannot provide to hundreds of different employers. Over the next two years, we may see just half a dozen examples of outsourcing,” she told Personnel Today.

At the HR Business Summit in Birmingham last week, Thomas outlined to delegates that employers were unclear as to whether the outsourcing market was maturing or declining.

“One or two NHS organisations has outsourced recruitment services or used shared services in the past, but a lot of them failed because we didn’t have good IT platforms,” she said.

“What we’ve seen in the last year is a wobble in the market and everyone has paused – the question is, how long will that pause carry on for?”

Instead, Thomas called on companies to use the internal electronic HR systems they already have to maximise efficiency and profits – rather than jump to outsourcing.

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