Health chiefs' plans in Staffordshire will be a 'dangerous experiment'

A union leader has accused health chiefs of conducting a 'dangerous experiment' with plans for cancer and end-of-life care in Staffordshire to be managed by private firms in deals worth £1.2 billion.

Karen Jennings
Karen Jennings

Health chiefs across the county have teamed up with experts from Macmillan Cancer Support to overhaul the way services are managed with 10-year contracts worth £689m and £535m up for grabs.

Virgin, Care UK, Ramsay Health and other private firms are said to be interested in bidding for the contracts in a move which has been dubbed as ‘privatisation by the back door’.

However Unison assistant general secretary Karen Jennings, voiced serious concerns about the proposals.

Miss Jennings, a former nurse, said: “This is beyond a dangerous experiment – it’s treacherous – a privatisation too far even for this Government.

“We are not talking about peripheral services. The contract is for end-of-life care and the broad range of cancer services, including the treatment and care of children suffering from cancer. And none of the companies in the running have the experience of dealing with this breadth of services."

She told a public meeting in Burton-upon-Trent that the commissioning groups were potentially handing over over all decision-making on these crucial services to private companies.

"This is much bigger than just asking private companies to provide a service, this is asking them to design the whole system. With profit as the main driving force, how can it not lead to problems?"

Andrew Donald, chief executive of both Cannock Chase and Stafford and Surrounds commissioning groups, said the Transforming Cancer and End of Life Care programmes were about bringing services together to create an integrated approach.

"Patients have told us about not knowing who to turn to in a crisis, leading to inappropriate and unnecessary admissions into hospital," he said.

"We have heard from patients and carers who have been lost in the system, or who have struggled to get the support when and where they need it – this is clearly not acceptable.

"It's about putting the patients at the centres of the process – it is not about privatisation."

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Comments for: "Health chiefs' plans in Staffordshire will be a 'dangerous experiment'"


I think that I would trust the MacMillan Cancer Support people who are the specialists in end of life support rather than any Unison representative to improve the way this support is given. Miss Jennings is a former nurse now a union representative and would therefore be opposed to any change, even if it improved the service and reduced the cost


You don't say whether you live in the catchment area to be affected. I do, I've had top notch cancer treatment at Stafford and Cannock and I'm extremely worried. Private companies are only interested in maximising profits and minimising costs. Do you want your cancer treatment 'on the cheap'?


This Govt are playing a dangerous game with the Health Service - not to be trusted.


This is still health care free at the point of delivery.

I'll bet that the service will be better and cheaper and will take some pressure off the hospitals and make them easier to manage.

This is a contract and can be terminated if the terms of the contract are not met.


'Cheaper' is the key word. See my response to Charlie (above).


Cheaper is not necessarily worse. Cheaper can be better.


markie: you say 'cheaper can be better'. But do you want to bet YOUR life on it (literally)?


All these public sector union gobbers make out they care desperately about people but it's their own jobs they care for the most.


Another 'charlie' on here.


There is an element of danger with this, look at what happened with the prison service when G4S took over, and there is still problems. However, there is an element also of looking after their own jobs, and this union woman has got to try to defend job losses, because of the union membership numbers falling for one start. But since the councils shut their care/old peoples homes these were privatised so is it a good thing, it definately is cheaper to run, for the owners of them anyway, because of rates of pay, terms and conditions, and no pension schemes to fund.