NHS England performs U-turn over site closure

The NHS Primary Care Support Service office, in Lancing Business Park
The NHS Primary Care Support Service office, in Lancing Business Park

THE NHS Primary Care Support Service’s head office in Lancing will remain open, following a U-turn by NHS England just weeks after it said the site would close.

While the move means many staff at the site in Lancing Business Park will keep their jobs, the way the situation has been handled has left employees feeling upset, according to Caroline Fife, UNISON regional organiser for the South East.

There’s been a lot of upset about this last minute announcement.

Caroline Fife

She said: “There’s been a lot of upset about this last minute announcement.

“They were told the offices were closing at the end of June, then nine weeks before they are told it’s staying open with a reduced workforce.

“The staff, quite frankly, have been marched to the top of the hill and down again quite a few times now.”

The site has a total of 62 employees and provides administrative and payment services to GPs, dentists, pharmacies and opticians throughout Surrey, Sussex and South West London.

Voluntary redundancy agreements will be honoured and the site will operate with a reduced workforce with some services outsourced elsewhere.

An NHS England spokesman said: “NHS England is consolidating the back-office functions which support primary care and we have consulted with staff on possible sites closures.

“As a result of that consultation, the Lancing office will not be closing.

“Some staff at Lancing opted for voluntary redundancy and will leave the service over the next two months, so we will be reviewing the services that remain at the Lancing office.”

Trade union UNISON has been campaigning fiercely on behalf of primary care support staff.

Following the release of a Closure of Formal Consultation document on March 31 by NHS England, UNISON released a response criticising its findings.

UNISON said it felt the consultation document was inadequate and that its proposals were ‘flawed and costly’.

It also stated that staff opting for voluntary redundancy at larger sites should be replaced by temporary staff.

The shake-up follows NHS England’s decision to put the running of primary care support services up for tender, in a bid to drive down costs.

The ten-year contract – estimated to be worth £1billion – is the biggest in the history of the NHS.

Capita, CapGemini and Equiniti are the three contenders.