King’s College Hospital bosses and trade union reps have resolved a dispute over pensions and maternity pay that could have gone on to affect 150 staff.
The row started after King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust embarked on a £7m tax-saving scheme, by transferring staff to a private subsidiary company, KCH Interventional Facilities Management (KCH IFM).
The Trust set up the company last year following a change in the law by HMRC, and with advice from consultancy firm Pricewater House Cooper.
Transferring procurement staff and technicians to KCH IFM has given the Trust huge breaks in VAT when it buys equipment like X-ray machines and intensive care units.
It would have meant staff who transferred to the private company would lose terms and conditions if, once in the company, they moved role or were promoted. But it has been confirmed by King’s biomedical scientist and Unite executive committee member, Frank Wood, that hospital bosses had agreed to demands.
Frank told the News: “The Trust responded to the staffs’ concerns and assured that staff who have transferred will be able to stay on the NHS terms and conditions, and retain it even if they get promoted, which is fantastic for them.
“What the Trust is going to do as well is talk to [Unite] and Unison to agree how future transfers would take place and allow a longer time to hear staffs’ concerns.
“I was surprised how smoothly it went. Things don’t tend to happen quickly in government: months and years rather than weeks. I think it was because of the level of concern from staff was so high.
“Some staff were literally saying they wouldn’t be able to progress with their careers at all because they didn’t want to lose aspects of their terms and conditions.”
He added: “It doesn’t change the spurious reason of why they’re doing it,” having previously said it “beggars belief” that a public body would hope to avoid paying tax.
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust did not wish to comment.