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Health Services Privatisation

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3:25pm 26th June 2014
(Updated 3:25pm 26th June 2014)

It is revealed seventy five million pounds worth of health services could be privatised in Cornwall.

Bosses want to put what they call 'non-complex' procedures up for tender.

That includes specialties like trauma and orthopaedics, general surgery, gastroenterology, ophthalmology,
dermatology, gynaecology, cardiology, urology, ENT and rheumatology. Many are provided by Treliske.

The Royal Cornwall says it is an opportunity to win back work it has previously lost. Lezli Boswell, RCHT Chief Executive said: "We welcome the opportunity to compete with other providers for NHS services. We are proud of our clinicians and constantly want to improve, innovate and expand our services to provide outstanding care for everyone in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly."

But Graham Webster from Health Initiative Cornwall is worried: "If all of these services are lost what will suffer is our only acute hospital in the county. At some point in time the danger is that the core services provided by the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust are going to be put at risk and they are going to be compromised.

"It's a bit of double edged sword really. It's going to put some services at risk at the RCHT but it also means that the Trust is going to get the opportunity to try and recover those services it's lost in recent years."

Joy Youart, NHS Kernow’s Managing Director, said: “This is absolutely not about privatisation, this is about providing services for people closer to where they live. It is about working with our partners, including RCHT and other NHS providers, but we must begin the process to look at the provision of some non-complex elective care when some of the current contracts end on 2015. These services include outpatient attendances, follow-up appointments and a range of outpatient and day-case procedures including rheumatology.

“Some of the treatments we are looking at are already delivered by private providers at the Duchy Hospital and at the Bodmin and Probus treatment centres so people don’t have to visit the acute hospital. Patients have told us that they want their services to be provided where they live, such as in GP surgeries and community hospitals. We have worked with doctors and other clinicians in our local providers, including RCHT, on these plans and they have also told us that there is a better way of providing these services. We now have an opportunity to improve the way patients can access treatment and meet their needs, without affecting the high levels of care we expect.

“It has also been reported that the hospital’s trauma service is being re-commissioned. I want to make it really clear that the major trauma service that people rely on for emergencies such as heart attacks, stroke and traffic accidents is not being taken away from RCHT. The label of trauma in the context of this procurement is to improve the way people are treated for hand, foot, hip, knee, shoulder and elbow conditions.”

Chris Dayus from Unison is worried for staff, she said: "Our experience is very, very clear, the first thing that any private sector organisation does is introduce their own terms and conditions for staff, and they are always inferior to the terms and conditions staff currently have.

"In it's desire and strive the private sector to make profit, which they have to do to survive we undertsand and appreciate that, but in the drive we think the quality of the service will be driven down."

3:25pm 26th June 2014

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