PSCs come under fire from NHS boss
Personal service companies have come under fire a lot recently, with HM Revenue and Customs targeting them for reform and now one of the NHS’s chief executives taking them on. Jim Mackey, who has recently been appointed to the post of chief executive in charge of NHS Improvement, tasked with regulating the health service’s providers, expressed his concerns in an interview with The Times newspaper this week.
He believes that there are an ‘awful lot’ of people working for the NHS through PSCs and as a result, he claims that they are being taxed relatively little. With the 2016 Budget due in March, the repeated attacks on PSCs could mean that being seen to be tackling the problem will be at the forefront of the Chancellor’s mind.
Last year’s investigation by Monitor, the NHS body, appears to have missed its mark as rules which were designed to target contract staff do not seem to be working. Those who were earning more than £220 per day were supposed to be put onto the payroll of the end-user which would have ensured that there could be no questions about their tax affairs.
However, the NHS is still looking at a £2 billion overspend which has been forecasted to rise to as much as £4 billion, and Mr Mackey believes that much of this can be attributed to the fact that NHS staff are leaving the payroll to return as contractors and negotiate higher rates for themselves.
Given that the NHS staffing agency max20 predicted that a cap on fees for agency workers in the NHS could leave the service dangerously under-resourced. In an attempt to counter some of the issues that make staffing recruitment difficult, moves towards paperless admin and e-health records could allow medics to work smarter rather than harder, there will always be a need for qualified and experienced staff.
By allowing front-line workers to focus on providing care to those who need it, and providing the wherewithal for patients to take more control over their health, the NHS hopes to resolve many of the issues they currently face, but contractors will play an important role in implementing this.
One thing is clear – whatever Jim Mackey might think, making drastic changes to the way contractors operate through PSCs could have a devastating effect on front-line services so any knee-jerk reaction on the Chancellor’s part will need to be well thought-through to succeed.
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