Jim Deen, Labour parliamentary candidate for Worthing West, has sent Worthing Daily his thoughts on the news that BUPA CSH has withdrawn from the contract to supply musculoskeletal (MSK) services in West Sussex.
Mr Deen writes:
“The fall-out from pull-out of BUPA
“It goes without saying that I’m delighted that BUPA CSH has pulled out of the proposed contract for musculoskeletal services for the Coastal West Sussex area. It’s excellent news for patients, staff and the NHS as a whole.
“It’s only because of all the pressure we applied, alongside other campaigning groups, that the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) agreed to a belated independent impact assessment by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), and it’s their report that has played a crucial part in BUPA’s decision to pull out.
“I met with the senior people from the CCG last October just after they had announced they were going to sign the contract with BUPA CSH, and I raised a great many of the potential impacts on other services and finances of the NHS Trust – issues that were later identified by the PWC study. I was told they were nothing to worry about and they would all be sorted out in discussions with BUPA after the contract had been signed. How right I was not to believe them.
“It’s clear from BUPA’s statement about pulling out of the contract that the CCG held back this information from them too … although I do wonder how a company as experienced as BUPA managed to turn a deaf ear to all the warnings that were coming from us and many others.
“In the end, the PWC report forced the CCG and BUPA to face up to the reality that this kind of partial privatisation of the NHS is bound to have a knock-on effect on other services and have costs which someone has to bear. And ignore all the altruistic stuff in BUPA’s statement about not wanting to compromise on the quality of care or to destabilise other services – they pulled out because the costs of providing the fixes for the problems their contract would have created was too great, and they would not have made the profit they were expecting.
“Whilst I am very happy about the outcome of our campaign to stop BUPA getting their hands on this contract, I have serious concerns about the decision making process that got us into this situation. Huge fault lines have been exposed in the whole process of commissioning clinical services. The CCG has shown itself to be woefully inexperienced and badly led by its executive and it has a Board that has been totally inadequate in providing the necessary scrutiny of decisions taken by the executive.
“We also can’t ignore the fact that the decision to offer the contract to BUPA CSH was taken by less than half the members of the Executive – the rest had to declare an interest because they were involved with other bids. Such conflicts of interest are totally unacceptable.
“These are issues which are not peculiar to the Coastal West Sussex CCG, although they have been particularly exposed by this debacle. They are inherent in the commissioning process brought in by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and the hugely expensive and unwanted top-down reorganization of the NHS brought in by the Coalition Government. These are messages that have to go back to the Department of Health. The commissioning system is just not fit for purpose.
“What’s the answer? Well, people power saw off the BUPA contract and people now need to be much more involved in the decision making processes of their NHS … our NHS.”
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