THE decision to award Bupa CSH Ltd a £235m NHS contract has been slammed as ‘privatisation by stealth’ by the vice chairman of the county council’s health watchdog.
Dr James Walsh, a Lib Dem councillor, is calling for the health & adult social care select committee (HASC), which he sits on, to hold an emergency meeting discussing the decision to hand control of all orthopaedic services in West Sussex to the private sector.
“When HASC looked at the plans several months ago one of the conditions was that the CCG should conduct a full assessment of how any of the existing services would change and I don’t believe that has been done,” Dr Walsh said today (Thursday, September 11).
A spokesperson for Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) told us last week it had conducted detailed focus groups with patients and clinicians over a three-year period.
But speaking generally about the deal Dr Walsh said: “It’s another layer of management which won’t have any perceived benefits as far as I can see.
“My understanding is it will bleed some £30m away from Western (Sussex) Hospital Trust which runs Worthing and St Richard’s and put severe pressure on maintaining existing orthopaedic and trauma services.
“Therefore it could lead to cuts in those services at either or both hospitals.”
Dr Walsh, a retired GP, added: “I also wonder where profits in a profit-making organisation are going to go.
“It’s a private company and I have serious concerns about this privatisation by stealth. It’s certainly a step along the road of privatisation.
“I will be asking HASC to call an emergency meeting to consider this or a sub group to look at it as a matter or urgency.”
HASC has the power to call in the decision for referral to the secretary of state if the committee believes the proper consultation process was not undertaken, Dr Walsh said.
The decision by Coastal CCG was announced on Thursday of last week.
Since then Western Sussex Hospital Trust has written to every GP in the county expressing serious concerns about the viability of its accident and emergency services at Chichester and Worthing after losing the lucrative contract.
Western is considering appealing the decision but must do so before the end of the ‘standstill’ period on Monday, September 15.