Herefordshire Council and NHS bosses unveil new-look joint service partnership

Mike Dearing is the new managing director.

Mike Dearing is the new managing director. Buy this photo

First published in News Hereford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

HEREFORDSHIRE Council and NHS bosses have unveiled their new-look joint service partnership and the man charged with running it as budgets tighten.

Mike Dearing has a sixfigure salary package to save the council £33m over the next 10 years and Hoople is how he’s going to do it.

Hoople is the name the council has chosen for what was previously known as the Shared Services Partnership (SSP).

It is billed as the first savings programme of its kind in the form of a joint venture company specially set up to run key corporate functions across the council, NHS Herefordshire (NHSH) and the Wye Valley NHS Trust (WVT).

The stakes on Hoople are high, as council chief executive Chris Bull told cabinet members in August that the £33m worth of savings expected of what was then still the SSP had already been deleted from the council’s budget plans as assured. To date the SSP/Hoople initiative has actually saved £619,000.

Cabinet agreed to setting up the SSP in October last year, approving also the issuing of a gift of shares to NHSH and WVT to enable their “full participation” in the new company.

This week the council went public with Mike Dearing’s appointment as managing director of the acronym-inspired Hoople.

Staff coming over to Hoople are said to have been directly involved in choosing the name and branding.

Mr Dearing was previously head of service transition with Buckinghamshire Council and before had worked in a range of consultancy capacities.

Hoople, currently tendering for its own auditor, is charged with saving its millions of pounds by running back office services such as human resources, IT, finance, purchasing, estates management, transport and customer services for the council, NHSH and WVT as a single entity.

Mr Dearing told the Hereford Times that the long-running issues around the transfer of 136 NHSH and WVT staff to Hoople had now been resolved, with Hoople having secured special status allowing its NHS staff to stay in their current NHS pension scheme.

The council will retain a 65 per cent shareholding in Hoople with WVT getting 20 per cent and NHSH 15 per cent, on the basis of current estimated company turnover by partner.

The council cabinet gave Mr Bull the authority to exercise the voting rights in respect of the council’s shareholding.

The chairman of Hoople is the former Conservative deputy leader of the council, June French.

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