Xansa’s NHS Shared Business Services (SBS), a joint venture with the DH designed to centralise financial systems across the NHS, has signed up its first shared payroll service in a Strategic Health Authority in the south-west of England.

Accounts staff at Hampshire Shared Financial Services (HSFS), who currently handle financial and payroll services for the area covered by Hampshire and Isle of Wight SHA, will now be transferred across to the company. Plans for the SBS scheme include integrating the payroll system into the planned electronic staff record (ESR) based on an Oracle 11i platform.

All 160 public sector staff employed by HSFS are based at Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust (WEHT). They will now move to Xansa’s shared services, based in Leeds and Bristol, under their existing terms of employment. The service will start in September 2005.

Peter Knight, director of IM&T at WEHT, said: "Transferring these services will improve our access to accurate financial information and allow us to make better decisions on allocating resources to improve patient care. We are looking forward to working with NHS SBS."

Alan Butler, director of finance at Hampshire and Isle of Wight SHA, said: "This deal will give us access to modern systems, specifically built around NHS needs, and based on e-enabled services. We have long used our own internal shared service facilities and were one of the first health communities to adopt an ESR compliant payroll system.

"This contract with NHS Shared Business Services will build on this and will help us optimise our finance & accounting and payroll services through a fully integrated platform."

14 out of the 17 NHS organisations in the SHA use the Shared Financial Services based in Winchester. According to Xansa, the fact that a shared centre is already in place will make for a smooth transition.

A spokesperson for Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust confirmed that the contract had been signed this week and services were now in the process of moving. The contract with the SHA will last for four years, with a two-year extension option.

Graham Robson, managing director of NHS Shared Business Services, said: "The experience of staff transferring will be very valuable to us and their expertise and knowledge will be fundamental as we develop a Payroll Centre of Excellence."

Xansa was announced by the DH as the preferred partner for shared services at the end of last year. The deal with the DH is a joint venture, worth around £250m to the company.

The work to integrate financial services in the NHS was started by the NHS Shared Service Initiative (SSI), originally set to become a special health authority in April 2003 with a remit to manage all NHS finance and accounting functions on a mandatory basis.