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NHS England pauses move for hundreds of staff ‘after office disagreement’

Published on: 22 Mar 2022

Hundreds of staff at a commissioning support unit are in limbo after NHS England had to pause the consultation over their transfer to new organisations.

Around 900 staff at North East London CSU were due to be transferred to new employers at the end of this month but instead face a further delay.

HSJ understands the NHS England and Improvement London region failed to properly consult over the availability of offices, and objections to this mean it has had to halt the consultation.

NEL CSU ceased to exist at the end of October, and 900 of its staff have since been employed by London Shared Services, part of the London region. The other 400 staff had already transferred to a different CSU.

They were due to transfer again at the end of March, split between London’s five clinical commissioning groups (to then be transferred again into respective integrated care boards, once these are formed); the NHSE/I London team; and the Royal Free London Foundation Trust’s recently launched partnership organisation.

A source said the consultation had faltered over a failure of NHSE/I to properly consult other organisations involved over where the staff would have access to office working. One source said many commissioning offices in London had been closed, and there had been an attempt to move to entirely home-based working.

A spokesperson for the region said: “Following discussions with our national trade union representatives, we have agreed to pause the consultation process, take time to review the issues raised, and work with our unions to safely transfer services and staff to their receiving organisations.

“In the meantime, staff will remain employed within the current hosted arrangements with NHS England and Improvement and our priority is ensuring they are all fully supported during this difficult time.”

It is not known when the staff will learn the next steps, and get confirmation of their employer. 

Until recently London had around 30 CCGs covering its seprate boroughs, with some commissioning functions outsourced to CSUs. However, the CCGs have merged into five, and are due to form five ICBs, so the CSU work – such as business intelligence, procurement and financial management – is being moved in-house.