Carillion, one of the NHS's biggest contractors, has fallen into administration this morning after ongoing financial struggles.
Following several days of negotiations, the board of the NHS's largest external contractor, Carillion, has said that it had “no choice but to take steps to enter into compulsory liquidation with immediate effect’’.
Carillion employs around 20,000 people in the UK with around 8,000 of these working as subcontractors for the NHS. The group also holds contracts for HS2, prisons and the armed forces.
Amid a winter crisis, the news could not have come at a worse time for the NHS.
Health bosses have raised concerns about how NHS organisation will continue to provide some critical services for patients if contracts collapse. NHS organisations are said to be developing contingency plans.
The Carillion website claims they are responsible for;
- The employment of around 8,000 dedicated people.
- 200,000 planned and reactive maintenance tasks to maintain approximately 1 million square metres of space.
- 200 operating theatres, 300 critical care beds and just under 11,500 in-patient beds
- Hygiene, cleaning services and the supply of patient meals.
- Portering services.
- Digital and telephone helpdesk services for NHS staff.
Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Health Minister, said;
"I think we do need that clarity from the Government.
"But certainly as soon as possible, because the NHS is in a state - we're in a huge winter crisis.
"I've been on Sky umpteen times in recent days, talking about the scale of the crisis in the NHS with people in corridors on trolleys and so on.
"This would be the last thing we need in the NHS if Carillion went under and it impacted on patient care."
Paul Nowak, TUC Deputy General Secretary, said vital public services were at risk.
"Workers, taxpayers and public service users could well be left to carry the can," he said, warning against a Government bailout.
"Carillion is a textbook example of the failures of privatisation and outsourcing.
"The Government needs to step in, guarantee jobs and services, and explain how they let this mess happen in the first place."
Jeremy Hunt is expected to discuss the potential implications on the NHS in Parliment today.