Business services conglomerate Serco is the only remaining supplier in the running for a contract to supply shared back-office functions to a group of NHS Trusts in the East of England.
In 2002, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and five other NHS trusts founded the Anglia Support Partnership (ASP), which provides back-office functions, including HR, IT and procurement. ASP, which also supplies a further 50 other public and private organisations, has to date been managed by the NHS trusts themselves, with Cambridge and Peterborough as the lead trust.
In March 2011, the contract to operate ASP was offered up for tender. The contract was valued at between £75 million and £400 million. The tender document revealed that ASP turns over £34 million a year, and owns assets worth £3.8 million.
Out of 70 interested parties, Serco has been "taken forward as the remaining single bidder”, with French facilities management company Sodexo as "reserve bidder", ASP’s acting managing director Gus Williamson announced today.
Serco still has to supply a final proposal by 19 January 2012, which will need to be approved by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.
Christopher Hyman, Serco’s chief executive, said that the company will be seeking to "radically improve service quality" and provide "guaranteed cost savings" to ASP’s clients. "These middle and back office services can also be accessed by a wide number of organisations, further leveraging the growth potential," Hyman said.
Earlier this year, trade union UNISON expressed its opposition to ASP’s outsourcing bid. "It’s a scandal. There is no accountability at all," said UNISON’s Eastern Region Head of Health Tracey Lambert. "The NHS is paying the salaries and running costs of bodies that appear dedicated to handing public services and assets over to private companies – and to ensuring that neither staff nor public have any chance to affect this one-way process."