Oxford

No review on Oxford's Churchill Hospital scanner privatisation plan

Churchill Hospital Image copyright Steve Daniels
Image caption The case had been referred to the health secretary in April

A controversial decision to privatise cancer screening will not be reviewed by the health secretary.

NHS England named private firm InHealth as its preferred bidder to take over the PET-CT service currently provided by Oxford's Churchill Hospital.

Due to widespread opposition, the case had been referred to the health secretary in April.

Plans for the NHS to work in partnership with the company will now move forward.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said as local clinicians "know the needs of communities best, they are responsible for making decisions about local NHS services."

InHealth's plan is to carry on providing scanning services at Oxford's Churchill Hospital, which will still be operated by trust staff.

Two mobile scanners would also be introduced in Swindon and Milton Keynes.

But the proposed transfer caused mass outcry, with Oxfordshire's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee receiving a 10,000-signature petition opposing the plans.

'Disappointing'

Nick Maynard, cancer lead at the trust, said the change would mean "the patients of Oxfordshire will get inferior quality scans and what we believe will be a less safe service".

The Conservative MP for North Oxfordshire, Victoria Prentis, wrote to the chief executive of NHS England in March to criticise the "disappointing" decision.

In the letter to Simon Stevens, she claimed the outsourcing to an offsite provider could "make it more difficult for the necessary clinicians from the various disciplines to meet to decide on the best course of treatment for each patient".

NHS England responded saying the additional scanners will "significantly improve" patient access in the Thames Valley area.

It also contested Ms Prentis' claims the hospital provided "world-class" service, saying InHealth scored higher than Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - which runs the screening services - in patient access, quality and value.

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