I welcome the announcement by the Department of Health that NHS Professionals Ltd will remain in total public ownership. This decision was made following a lengthy, rigorous and transparent bidding process, during which the performance of NHS Professionals markedly improved.  The offers received undervalued the company's potential and would not have represented best-value for the UK taxpayer.

On 7 September the Health Minister, Philip Dunne MP, said in a Written Statement to the House:

I am today updating the House on the future of NHS Professionals Ltd (the company). 

The Department of Health has today announced that NHS Professionals Ltd—a company which supplies flexible staffing to the NHS—will remain in wholly public ownership, after offers to buy a majority stake in the company undervalued its growing potential. 

In November 2016, the Government decided to instigate a sale of a majority share in NHS Professionals Ltd as a potential path to providing it with the extra expertise, technology and investment it needed to work with more hospitals and drive greater savings for the NHS. However, after careful consideration, the Government have concluded that none of the offers received for the company through the open, rigorous bidding process reflected the company’s growing potential and improved performance. 

NHS Professionals was established as a limited liability company by the last Labour Government in 2010, with a specific intention to give it greater commercial freedoms and “prepare it for sale” (Department of Health, “Explanatory Memorandum to The NHS Professionals Special Health Authority (Abolition) Order 2010”, February 2010). It currently holds a bank of over 90,000 workers filling more than 2 million shifts, saving the NHS £70 million every year. However, it only works with around a quarter of trusts, meaning that many others rely heavily on more expensive agencies to supply additional staff. We would like more trusts to work together to fill shifts via collaborative banks, and there will be opportunities for NHS Professionals Ltd and others to support this work. 

Since the decision was taken to seek offers for the company, NHSP has significantly increased its performance such that audited profit before tax for the year ended 31 March 2017 was 44% higher than in the previous year. This improvement in financial performance continues to be built upon in the first quarter of the current year. The company’s improved financial and operational performance means it can now invest in improved IT infrastructure, expand its services to the NHS and transform into a world-class provider of flexible staff while remaining under public ownership—generating further savings for the NHS, all of which will continue to be reinvested in frontline services. 

The Government are fully committed to providing world-class NHS services that are free at the point of the use, now and in the future.