A health trust has joined forces with an outsourcing firm to help it find ways to save money.

The £22m partnership between the Sussex Community NHS NHS Trust and Capita will run for five years.

Up to 30 senior managers from the trust may be transferred to Capita because of the changes.

A formal consultation will be held with the workers affected in the new year.

The trust, which provides community services in Brighton and Hove and West Sussex, is expecting to save around £15m from the changes.

It is also aiming to achieve foundation trust status next year, which will give it greater financial freedom from the Department of Health.

Managers say Capita’s expertise will help it meet the financial standards required to achieve it.

But the news has raised concerns from health campaigners who say it is another indication of the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

They warn it will affect staff morale and patient services could be affected.

John Lister from the National Health Action Party said: “This is the latest trust to have embarked upon a partnership that can only end in reduced quality of services for patients.

“That NHS managers resort to these costly consultancy arrangements is a sad reflection of the instability of an increasingly commercialised NHS and the skewed values and priorities of shaping services around markets and competition rather than patients and their health needs.”

Trust director of finance, facilities and estates Jonathan Reid said: “We will work together as partners to build upon on our respective strengths and expertise and achieve tangible improvements for the health and care system in Sussex.

“Ultimately, it’s about delivering improved services and better care to some of the most vulnerable patients in the communities we serve.”

Emma Pearson, chief executive at Capita Health and Wellbeing, said: “The political and economic environment is challenging the NHS to deliver services more effectively and more efficiently, while still improving patient care.

“Against this backdrop this innovative partnership is designed to overcome these challenges by blending the trust’s considerable clinical skills and knowledge of the local community with Capita’s broad experience of providing, supporting and helping to transform healthcare services across the NHS and the private healthcare sector.

“We believe that we can help to genuinely improve outcomes for patients at the same time as helping Sussex Community NHS Trust achieve foundation trust status.”

The trust provides a wide range of medical, nursing and therapeutic care to more than 8,000 people a day.

It also works to help people plan, manage and adapt to changes in their health, to prevent avoidable admission to hospital and to minimise hospital stay.