Express & Star

Part privatisation of Staffordshire cancer care on hold

Controversial plans to partly privatise NHS cancer services in Staffordshire totalling £687 million have been put on hold.


The tender which campaigners had branded as a 'sell-off', was expected to be sealed by a 10-year contract in December.

But it has now been delayed after a similar deal involving £800m of elderly care in Cambridgeshire became financially unsustainable and subsequently collapsed after eight months.

It has now been confirmed that an announcement will not be made until a review into the collapse of Cambridgeshire had been completed.

The bidder that remains is a consortium between private firm Interserve and The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust after another, the Royal Stoke University Hospital, pulled out last year.

Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group emphasises that this is not about 'selling off' any services. They say it is about bringing proper co-ordination to the way services are delivered to patients so they can receive better care.

Andy Donald, chief officer of Stafford, Cannock and South East Staffordshire CCGs, said: "Following the recent termination of the Uniting Care contract in Cambridge and Peterborough, NHS England has commissioned an independent review to find the key facts and causes behind the collapse of the contract.

"The findings are expected to be published in February and lessons learned from the review will be used to make sure that the cancer and end-of-life contracts are robust and sustainable before any announcements are made.

"To ensure that the programme does not lose momentum, NHSE has encouraged commissioners and patients to continue with the work on both procurements."

Campaigners have welcomed the delay and said they hoped it would now be shelved completely.

Gail Gregory of the Cancer Not For Profit campaign, who created a petition opposing the plan, said: "We are delighted to hear that is paused and we hope that now it is going to be paused forever.

"If we hadn't have done what we're doing the contract would have been signed 12 months ago."

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis added: "At last the commissioners have seen sense, and listened to the 70,000 local people who signed the petition opposing the moves to auction off cancer and end-of-life services in Staffordshire.

"NHS patients locally need to have certainty about their services and who is responsible for them."

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