Contract start date delayed due to assessment

Worthing Hospital's A&E department
Worthing Hospital's A&E department

THE Herald & Gazette has been praised for its campaign to safeguard vital orthopaedic and trauma services at Worthing Hospital.

Musculoskeletal (MSK) services will now continue to be provided as they are until March 31, 2015, while the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust carry out an independent impact assessment, following the decision to award a contract for a new integrated MSK service to Bupa CSH Ltd.

Dr Walsh, vice-chairman of the Health and Adult Social Care select committee (HASC), has hailed the delay ‘a big success’.

He said: “I have had the biggest mail bag I’ve had since Fit for the Future. I’m still getting two or three letters of concern every day and that is considerably less than I was receiving.

“The response by local residents has been fantastic and I have to congratulate your campaign.

“This (the delay) is a big success and has come about because of a number of factors. Firstly the hospital trust for alerting us about their concerns, yourselves for launching your campaign and the people power behind it, and also HASC for using its powers of persuasion.

“Without all these things it would have been a fate du compli.

The CCG insists the contract with Bupa will not be signed until there is certainty around where hospital services will be delivered as part of this new service, and that local health services will not be destabilised.

Dr Katie Armstrong, clinical chief officer at NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The CCG wants to improve services for patients, we take the concerns raised by the hospital trust very seriously; we have no intention to close A&E departments or to affect the ability of the local hospital to provide safe and sustainable services.

“This agreement is a positive step forward so we can work alongside the hospital trust and develop a joint understanding of the impact of the new service and ensure local services stay safe. The CCG and hospital agree that current services for MSK patients need to be better integrated.”

Marianne Griffiths, the chief executive of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added: “This joint impact assessment should provide the clearer picture we need of how hospital services will be affected by any new arrangements, and I am pleased our concerns have been recognised and will now be explored in full, in partnership.

“The staff who run our current MSK service, of which I am personally very proud, also make a hugely important contribution to a wide range of other specialties across our hospitals. If we want to put patients first, it is vital that they are able to continue to do so.”

Both organisations said they were committed to working together and would accept the outcome of the report.

Following a meeting with the Herald & Gazette, the CCG confirmed that contract negotiations were underway between Bupa CSH Ltd and all of the existing secondary care providers, including WHSFT, to agree how services will be provided as part of the new contract.

According to the CCG, Bupa CSH Ltd has said it wants to see orthopaedic services continue at the hospital trust and to sub-contract with them for elective orthopaedic work, such as knee and hip operations.

The aim of the new contract is to bring all of the current MSK services together into one co-ordinated, joined up service.

The prime provider will be accountable to the CCG for all local planned MSK services – the ones they provide and the ones they sub-contract – rather than individual organisations being responsible to the CCG for their individual service.