Lead governor of NHS trust and chairman of the clinical commissioning group put across points

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LEADING healthcare figures have expressed strong views on the on-going MSK contract saga.

As fears continue to grow over the decision to award the £235 million contract to Bupa CSH Ltd – and the impact it could have on our hospitals – Margaret Bamford, the lead governor of the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has issued an open letter to all members of the West Sussex Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee ahead of tonight’s meeting.

In her letter, Mrs Bamford said: “The damage is incalculable and, if implemented, will be irreversible. Having worked tirelessly with the CCG to reduce the hospital footfall, to transfer services to the community, and to improve hospital discharge procedures, this unilateral, commercially driven action has dealt a body blow to collaborative working; a collaboration which is essential if we are to work in the best interests of patients and make best use of our resources in these in these financially challenged times.”

The letter then goes on to outline the shared concerns of the trust’s governors.

It reads: “The lack of any proper assessment of the impact of implementation of the contract. We believe this invalidates the whole process. The absence of any genuine public participation or consultation on a contract which will clearly lead to substantial service changes to other health services in the area, which is contrary to the intentions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. The governance issues – seven (out of 14) of the decision-makers declared an interest and could not vote, and the potential savings to be realised over a five-year contract are minimal and are far outweighed by the damage done to an integrated service and collaborative working.”

The Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed to a further joint impact assessment.

The governors have urged HASC to seek assurance from the CCG that any decision on the contract be deferred until the findings are reviewed.

Following concerns raised by the Herald & Gazette over the contract decision, CCG chairman Andrew Williamson has moved to reassure the public that the group has their best interests at heart.

Mr Williamson said: “We are deeply worried about the concerns of the community and would like to assure your readers that the CCG values the MSK services delivered by WSHFT and all of its current providers and is working with the preferred prime provider to ensure this new contract offers the best services for its patients and maintains the stability of our NHS partners.”

Mr Williamson said all parties involved in the current MSK service agreed ‘some time ago’ that things needed to be improved for patients. He added that the scale of the improvement project meant that the only option open to the CCG was procurement – conducted under EU regulations.

“Trauma and A&E services are not part of this procurement and the CCG would like to assure the public that these are not under threat; we will continue to commission these services from Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,” said Mr Williamson.

He added that the decision would result in a ‘more joined-up service’.