Last Updated: March, 2019

Mutuals are businesses that are part-owned by their employees. 'Part-ownership' does not mean the same thing in all mutuals.

In 2014 the government (driven by Tory MP Francis Maude) promoted the idea of mutualisation to publicly owned and operated NHS  Foundation Trust  Hospitals (FTs) in an attempt to encourage them to float as PRIVATE not-for-profit companies. This is not as radical as it might sound given that Foundation Trusts were created to turn hospitals into PUBLIC not-for-profit companies. The government's flagship example of a mutual was  Circle .

Foundation Trusts that have been converted to mutuals are not part of the NHS. They are private non-profit businesses without NHS terms and pensions for staff. They are vulnerable to takeover by large corporations because there are no legal protections against that in England. Where staff have been surveyed 80-90 percent are against converting their hospital to a mutual.

This echoed a drive in 2005 by the government to encourage community health services to split-off from the NHS and become  Social Enterprises .