West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has written to health bosses at West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group seeking answers about claims they consulted ‘clinical staff’ over the decision to privatise urgent care services, amid growing anger and unrest amongst local GPs and residents.
Since the announcement that urgent care services (Ormskirk and Skelmersdale Walk-in Centres, Out of Hours GP Services and Acute Visiting Services) will from April 2017 be provided by one of two private health care providers, Rosie has been receiving complaints.
Local GPs and health service patients are angry about attempts to privatise local NHS services and claims that local clinicians have been consulted on this issue.
In a media statement to announce the decision to only allow two private providers to compete for the contract, chief nurse for West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, Claire Heneghan is quoted as saying ‘We have listened to what our local community and clinical staff have told us.’
A claim that is being disputed by local clinicians and residents involved in the local health service. According to local health service patients the Clinical Commissioning Group has not raised this issue at any meetings during 2015, whilst the clinical commissioning group had at the beginning of March also failed to advertise their 2016 meetings schedule.
MP Rosie understands there was even a formal challenge to West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group’s decision on urgent care services by OWLS, the GP Out of Hours service. A challenge that was dismissed using the European procurement rules as their excuse for continuing down the road of privatisation of NHS services. The decision was released at 6pm on Friday 11 March when no-one would be around to answer any questions.
Speaking on this issue, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“I cannot seem to find a local GP or nurse with some level of involvement in these urgent care services who has been consulted despite the comments made by the chief nurse for West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group.
“I have therefore written to West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group seeking clarification of the comments in the media statement.
“As each day passes there are more and more questions which need answers about how West Lancashire now faces private companies taking over vital local urgent care services.
“Who are the people that made this decision?
“On what information was their decision made?
“West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group are making decisions about the future of local health services but appear to be doing so in private.
“They claim to be listening to people yet those very people say they have not been contacted and have had no input into this decision. There is a real lack of openness and transparency in how these decisions are being taken.
“The GPs on the CCG Board need to be held to account for their decisions and they need to explain themselves to local residents and their fellow GPs.
“West Lancashire taxpayers deserve to know how and why West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group believe their money is best spent with private health care companies rather than in the NHS.
“I intend to keep asking the questions until we get to the full truth of the matter.”
This follows the announcement by West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group on 25 February 2016 that they had been liaising with potential providers that would be interested in providing community health services and some elements of urgent care services in West Lancashire.
Following an evaluation process West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group excluded Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust at the initial pre-qualification questionnaire stage and meaning the trust will now lose both these services. They had invited the following for further discussions:
On community health services further discussions will be held with two out of area NHS providers Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and Bridgewater Community Healthcare with two private healthcare providers, Optum Health Solutions (UK) and Virgin Care Services.
On urgent care services only two private providers were invited for further discussions -Optum Health Solutions (UK) and Virgin Care Services.