CONCERNS have been raised at the possible impact of privatising community health services including district nurses and end of life care.
South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (SWCCG) currently pay South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) to run out-of-hospital services such as community matrons, day care for the elderly, hospice and palliative care.
But at a meeting this week, the CCG governing body was set to approve plans to put the £21million contract out to tender – meaning it could be taken up by private healthcare companies.
A SWCCG spokesman said: “We have identified the current approach to procuring out-of-hospital services in south Warwickshire may not reflect future service requirements or be the most efficient use of resources.
“We are keen to consider the current and future needs of the population rather than simply re-procuring the existing scope of the current contract.”
But SWFT – which runs Warwick, Leamington, Stratford and Ellen Badger hospitals – hopes to be chosen to continue running the services and say they are concerned about potential privatisation.
Chief executive Glen Burley told The Observer: “We have concerns about the negative impact on staff morale and we have also questioned the sense of introducing another potentially non-NHS provider into the local health system at a time when the national strategy is to integrate health and social care more.
“We are discussing the situation with the CCG so that we can understand their rationale and approach. If we are required to bid then we will.
“Our proposed solution will demonstrate the collaborative working that is currently in place with the likes of the council, hospices and GPs to deliver the best care for patients in the local community and to maintain viable local healthcare services.”
A group fighting to save the NHS from privatisation have also voiced their concerns about the future of community health services.
South Warwickshire Keep Our NHS Public (SWKONP) chair Anne Pollert says the group feels the £300,000 which will be spent by the CCG on putting the contract out to tender is wasted money.
She told the Observer: “This taxpayers money would fund many nurses or junior doctors for a year, yet it is going to be used to go through a totally unnecessary commissioning exercise.
“We argue that privatisation and fragmentation of services will not save money and will make any existing problems worse. We are calling on SWCCG to urgently discuss with SWFT their continuing delivery of these services, while supporting them in making improvements where needed.”