MSK contract to be revisited, says MP

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CAMPAIGNERS have hit out at being ‘kept in the dark’ and not able to see a crucial report which outlines the effects a controversial health contract award will have on hospital services.

The independent impact assessment was commissioned by the Western Sussex Hospital Trust, and the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the NHS decision-makers who awarded Bupa CSH Ltd a £235m musculoskeletal (MSK) contract.

The hospital trust expressed fears that its accident and emergency units at both St Richard’s and Worthing hospitals could suffer as a result of the deal and the contract start date was delayed to allow for the assesment.

However, the Don’t Cut Us Out campaign group said the impact assessment had yet to be made public despite ‘promises made by Katie Armstrong, CCG chief executive to the Health and Adult Social Care committee, two weeks ago’.

East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton, has, however, discussed the findings and said ‘the contract will be revisited’.

Margaret Guest, chairman of Don’t Cut Us Out, said: “When will the CCG tell us what the findings are?

“This report, prepared for NHS bosses by Price Waterhouse Cooper, was ‘studied’ by the CCG and hospital leaders and ‘shared’ in private with the committee, supposedly a public body, days ago, but the public is being kept in the dark.”

Despite the CCG not publicly revealing the findings, Mr Loughton, and Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West, met Worthing Hospital managers last week. Mr Loughton said: “It looks as though common sense is breaking out over the controversial MSK contract. The impact study jointly commissioned with the clinical commissioning group raises concerns about the impact on local hospital services and the contract will now have to be revisited.”

A CCG spokesperson said: “Operational discussions are taking place between the CCG and the hospital trust and when they have been concluded, a summary of the impact assessment will be made available to the public.”

Mrs Guest added: “It is difficult not to draw the conclusion that the CCG is struggling to put a positive spin on the findings in a vain attempt to reassure the public regarding its potentially calamitous plans for MSK services.

“The whole process of the CCG’s planned changes to MSK services is a shambles. The CCG has failed to consult fully with the public, they instigated a report into the impact of the changes very late in the day; and there continues to be a dispute among local NHS chiefs as to whether the costly procurement process was necessary in the first place.”