Hospital contract

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Following the recent impact assessment for the musculoskeletal (MSK) contract, which spelled out a number of possible impacts on services, it is worth being mindful of news from Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Cambridgeshire.

On Friday, Circle, the private health company, said it had entered into discussions with the NHS Trust to enable an ‘orderly withdrawal’ from the contract. When the going gets tough, the private sector gets going – dumping patients and leaving the NHS to foot the bill and clear up the mess.

It’s revealing to look at the language used, with Circle saying the franchise

is ‘unsustainable’.

This perfectly illustrates the difference between the private sector, which seeks profits, and public NHS trusts, which prioritise patient care and don’t walk away from patients when they realise they can’t make money from them. This shows exactly why the market has no place in healthcare.

The privatisation experiment has lamentably failed and it is in this context that we now await the results of the deal between the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Bupa CSH to find out whether the numerous impacts will be mitigated

or not.

And one suspects, should this contract not turn out to the liking of Bupa CSH, it will once again be up to the NHS to pick up the pieces.

So far, we have heard voices campaign for the CCG letting the public know the full details of the deal they make with Bupa CSH to mitigate the problems highlighted in the PWC report. This is not enough. The ethic of profit for private companies like Bupa will always be at odds with the ethic of care of our National Health Service. The CCG needs to halt this ill-thought through deal immediately and return MSK services to where they belong – the trust. The A&E crisis this week has shown us more than ever that what the NHS needs right now is proper funding, not privatisation.

Dr Carl Walker

National Health Action Party candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham

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