Officials working for the NHS national programme for IT have firmly denied that private sector suppliers will take over the jobs of thousands of health service computer specialists as part of the £2.3bn initiative.
The statement came in response to growing concern among NHS professionals about possible transfers after senior officials sent letters and explanatory documents to the chief executives of trusts in London about the national programme.
The documents said officials were discussing whether Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (Tupe) Regulations affected the national programme. The Tupe rules protect the rights of workers whose jobs are transferred from one organisation to another.
In the explanatory documents, delivered six weeks ago, officials asked trust chief executives not to delay giving their commitment to the national programme while discussions about Tupe were continuing.
The documents said, “Discussions are continuing at NpfIT [national programme for IT] regarding how Tupe might affect this programme. Please do not let the clarification of Tupe delay the sign up process [to the National Programme] within PCTs and trusts.”
When questioned about Tupe, national programme officials said, “The aim of the national programme for IT is to bring new IT capability to the NHS, not to transfer employees from the NHS to the private sector.”
Despite the assurance, some IT specialists in the NHS told Computer Weekly that they remain concerned that talks between suppliers and officials over jobs transfers will begin in earnest after contracts are signed with local service providers.