The 8,000-strong commissioning support workforce is set to be employed by the NHS Business Services Authority, LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal has learned.
The NHS Commissioning Board has said it is “looking at options for an employment partnership arrangement with the NHS Business Services Authority”, in a bid “to create the right environment for commissioning support units to develop appropriately as organisations in their own right”.
It had previously been widely expected the staff would be employed by the board itself, which will host NHS commissioning support units.
Under the partnership arrangement the board would continue to host the CSUs but not be the employer of their staff.
The authority already supplies various critical services to NHS organisations on a national scale, including human resources and employment services for various Department of Health teams and programmes.
Its portfolio also includes management of the NHS pension scheme, security and anti-fraud services, supply chain services and financial services such as administration of payments to pharmacists for NHS prescriptions and payments to dentists.
The move would help reduce the likely conflict of interest between the board’s role in developing commissioning –including a market in support services – and employing staff supplying those services.
As host organisation the commissioning board will still be responsible for developing CSUs and policy on commissioning support services.
The business services authority would also be responsible for overseeing how CSUs manage the staff at a local level. Despite the change, CSUs are expected to have their own human resources functions.
The terms of the agreement are understood to still be under discussion, and it is not yet clear, for example, which body would be liable if a CSU went bust or needed to make redundancies.
One CSU managing director welcomed the move. The source told HSJ it was “very positive” as it confirmed that CSUs would not be part of the “normal commissioning board”.