Plans to be outlined to staff on Wednesday could see 1,100 staff, and services for more than 100,000 children and 420,000 older people, come under the social enterprise banner.
A letter by Andrew Harrington, chief operating officer of Bedfordshire Community Health Services (BCHS), says: ‘As an NHS staff member working for BCHS you would transfer in to the new organisation under TUPE rules. All of your terms and conditions will transfer, including your pension.'
However, Unite says that TUPE regulations do not protect pensions in this way. Instead staff may not be allowed to stay in the NHS pension scheme and if the social enterprise asks them to take on any new ‘private' work, they will not be allowed to remain in the NHS scheme. Unite adds that new staff will not be allowed in the NHS scheme.
In a statement to Healthcare Republic, Mr Harrington said: 'As with PCTs across the country, NHS Bedfordshire is working towards separating its commissioning and provider-arm operations.
'Under DoH guidance, staff currently working in Bedfordshire Community Health Services are being offered the right to request the establishment of a social enterprise for children and adult services.
'We are therefore working with our staff, at this very early stage in the process, to gauge their support, views and interest in moving these proposals to the next stage.
'Staff are being provided with appropriate information to support them in making their own judgement on whether creating a social enterprise is in the best interests of themselves and the services. Plans will only be taken forward with their full support.
'No decision has yet been made and developing a social enterprise is just one of the options we will be considering.'
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