CHICHESTER MP Andrew Tyrie has raised fresh concerns over the contentious £235m orthopaedic contract, saying it could have ‘catastrophic’ effects on St Richard’s Hospital.
His damning words came as the Observer’s A&E SOS campaign chalked up its first success as the contract with private healthcare firm Bupa was delayed.
Referring to the successful fight to save accident and emergency services at Chichester eight years ago, Mr Tyrie said: “That was a hard-won battle.
“It would be catastrophic if, after all that effort, we were to see St Richard’s undermined. We are not at that point now.
“I will be meeting Marianne Griffiths, the chief executive, at St Richard’s to discuss the musculoskeletal contract.
“Some of what I have heard about it informally has been concerning for St Richard’s future.”
On Tuesday, NHS decision-makers on Tuesday announced a delay in handing over a major set of services to private consortium Bupa CSH Ltd. The takeover of all elective orthopaedic (known as MSK) services across the county has been pushed back from January 1 to March 31.
The delay is to allow an independent impact assessment to be carried out to determine if A&E services at Chichester and Worthing will be affected as a result of the new deal, as the hospital trust has warned.
Respected former GP and vice chairman of the county council’s health and adult social care committee (HASC) Dr James Walsh called the delay a ‘big success’ for people power.
Referring to our campaign to safeguard A&E services, which now has more than 7,500 signatures, Dr Walsh said: “The response by local residents has been fantastic and I have to congratulate your campaigning.
“This [delay] is a big success and has come about because of a number of factors. Firstly, the hospital trust for alerting us about their concerns, yourselves for launching your campaign and the people power behind it, and also HASC for using its powers of persuasion.
“Without all these things it would have been a fait accompli.”
NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, the decision-makers who awarded the £235m musculoskeletal deal to Bupa CSH Ltd, has vowed to ‘accept the outcome of the report’, which it has jointly commissioned along with Western Sussex Hospitals Trust.
Shortly after the announcement of the new contract in September, bosses at Western, which runs St Richard’s, Worthing and Southlands hospitals, expressed serious concerns that it would threaten the viability of A&E units. The trust fears losing such a lucrative contract would put loss-making services such as A&E under pressure.
Concerns have also been raised over how surgeons and staff who cover both elective and non-elective MSK work would continue to do so, given the contract does not cover emergency procedures in A&E.
Announcing the delay, Dr Katie Armstrong, clinical chief officer at Coastal, said: “The CCG wants to improve services for patients, we take the concerns raised by the hospital trust very seriously; we have no intention to close A&E departments, or to affect the ability of the local hospital to provide safe and sustainable services.
“This agreement is a positive step forward so we can work alongside the hospital trust and develop a joint understanding of the impact of the new service and ensure local services stay safe.
The CCG and hospital agree current services for MSK patients need to be better integrated.”