ONLY seven people out of a possible 21 had a say in the future of western Sussex hospitals, it was revealed today (October 2).
For the past few weeks, controversy has reigned over the awarding of a £235m musculoskeletal contract to a non-NHS body by the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has claimed the loss of the contract could cripple its A&E department and other hospital services at St Richard’s Hospital, in Chichester, and Worthing Hospital.
At a health and adult social care meeting (HASC) today at West Sussex County Council’s county hall, Richard Hornby, interim finance chief of the CCG, told the committee the majority of the group responsible for the decision on the contract were unable to vote as they had a ‘conflict of interest’.
Earlier, vice chairman of HASC James Walsh grilled Katie Armstrong from the CCG as to whether adequate assessment was made of the impact on the hospitals if the contract was awarded to BUPA/CSH.
“This has created the biggest public and press storm and my biggest mail bag since Fit For The Future,” he said, referring to previous proposals to close either Chichester or Worthing’s A&E and other services.
He said he was ‘astonished’ more attention had not been paid to carrying out local impact risk assessments on the hospitals to see how they would be affected.
Earlier, Dr Armstrong said the decision to award BUPA/CSH the contract was because they were a ‘clear winner’ throughout the process.
“If all goes to plan and all parties behave responsibly, there should be no significant changes to services,” she said.
The medical director at the trust George Findlay said he welcomed the news that Dr Armstrong admitted there were risks, saying at first the CCG had ‘belittled’ the concerns raised about St Richard’s and Worthing.
He said the public was told the trust was ‘posturing and raising undue concern’.
“That’s clearly not the case,” he said.
“Personally, I feel it’s a very bad decision for patients and our staff who deliver great care for the sustainability of our hospitals and for the residents of West Sussex.
“I’m really concerned about the sustainability of our hospital service.”