In short, a WOS is an organisation set-up externally to an NHS Foundation Trust, but still within the Trusts ownership. In doing this, Trusts have reported flexibility around terms and conditions, greater income generation, wider prospects in areas like apprenticeships, opportunities around procurement and tendering, as well as being able to reduce tax costs.
A number of NHS trusts are currently exploring this model, while some have already adopted this way of working such as Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust and locally at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
At the Trust, we are focused upon delivering the best patient care, whilst also providing value for money, and as such we would always explore options which may help us to achieve these goals, including the potential benefits of WOS seen within the public sector.
To this end, DBTH has undertaken a feasibility study regarding WOS focused upon the practicalities of a transfer of the services which have been part of other examples of WOS.
In March, a discussion was held by DBTH directors on the theory, opportunities and risks of setting up a WOS. Union representatives were invited to attend and engaged in this discussion, expressing their views on this matter.
As an exploratory session, the organisation’s position remains unchanged and no decisions have been made regarding taking a WOS forward and no preferences expressed.
If the Trust’s position changes in the future, this would be communicated well in advance with any proposals requiring formal talks with the organisation’s Board of Directors, Council of Governors and staff, as well as union representatives.