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Trust plans to directly employ 500 outsourced staff

Published on: 17 Nov 2021

Around 500 outsourced staff are to be directly employed by an ambulance trust in a bid to integrate them with crews.

The “make ready” teams are responsible for cleaning and restocking ambulances before they are taken out. London Ambulance Service Trust has outsourced the service for many years but is now proposing they are brought inhouse from next April.

Staff would initially be paid the London Living Wage and would transition to Agenda for Change over three years, LAS chief executive Daniel Elkeles said in a message to staff.

“Whilst there is still some way to go, including a full staff consultation, before any formal agreements can be made, there would be some clear benefits to the teams in make ready joining us,” he said.

“We will be able to more fully integrate these teams with the crews that they work with, to make a much more joined up operational team in each station group.

“I would like to put on the record my thanks to both Mitie and Churchill who have provided the service to us for many years for their dedication to LAS and their professionalism as we make this transition”

The London Living Wage, which reflects the higher cost of living in the capital and is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, is currently £11.05 compared to a national minimum wage of £8.91 – which is due to rise to £9.50 an hour in April. The lowest paid workers in the NHS – those joining on band 2 of Agenda for Change - get paid £9.49 currently but would also get enhanced payments for unsocial hours and those working in London would qualify for a high cost area supplement.

The move has been welcomed by Unison, whose branch secretary Eddie Brand tweeted that it was “great news.”

While he was chief executive at St Helier and Epsom University Hospitals Trust, Mr Elkeles announced it would bring cleaning and catering services back inhouse. He pointed to the high numbers of staff in these areas who were from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities who had been particularly hard hit by covid.

The cost of moving staff to AfC for LAS is not known but when ESHT announced the 440 staff would be brought onto NHS rates it said this meant a 12 per cent increase in pay for them and a £2m annual bill for the trust. LAS already employs more than 6,000 people.

HSJ understands that the LAS contracts with both Mitie and Churchill are due to come to an end in March. Some NHS trusts contract out their make ready function to private operators but others have kept the staff inhouse.