NHS boss hits personal service companies

The use of personal service companies by certain medical professionals who the NHS is short of has been attacked by the health service’s regulator.

Jim Mackey, the relatively newly appointed chief executive of provider regulator NHS Improvement, launched the attack to the Times newspaper yesterday.

He said there were “an awful lot of people working through personal service companies and therefore doing it and not paying very much tax”.

His comments are significant as they represent the second time in as many days that PSCs have received negative media coverage in the run-up to Budget 2016, due on March 16th.

His comments also imply that despite an investigation last year by NHS body Monitor, rules targeting ‘off-payroll’ staff appear not to have had the effect that the government desired.

Introduced in 2012, the rules seek to put all external workers earning over £220 a day onto the end-user’s payroll, to ensure their tax affairs are no longer “open to question.”

Mr Mackey’s comments suggest that doctors with skills the NHS needs are quitting their full-time, on-payroll jobs as they can still earn much more through agencies, off-payroll as a PSC.

He said: “I’ve seen it where they’ll be individual negotiations with a doctor or nurse; ‘I want X for a shift,’ ‘No I want X plus Y now’ and ‘I’ve just been offered Z next door.’”

His comments come as hospitals are suffering from a £2bn overspend, reported to be largely driven by the expense of using agency staff, which some forecasters say will reach £4bn.

But in November, Don Tomlinson, boss of NHS technology staffing agency max20 said that placing a cap on NHS agency workers’ fees would leave NHS IT trusts “on life support.”

This week, more than £4bn in IT spending was agreed for the health service, which will look at ways to improve its tech, including e-health records, so it can be ‘paperless’ by 2020.

More convenience and better outcomes for patients are the goals, evidenced by plans to allow speaking to a doctor online via video link and a click-and-collect prescription service.

“We will be focusing on delivering technological solutions that enable better care and that free up time and resources to allow frontline workers to focus on their patients,” said Andy Williams, chief executive of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which provides IT for the NHS.

He added: “We are committed to enabling patients to be involved with their care and to have secure access to their medical records, allowing them to take control of their own health and to work in partnership with care providers.”

Editor’s Note: Related Reading –

Public sector given guide on contractor tax affairs

New rules to tax state PSC users as employees

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Feb 09, 2016