Opposition to plans to privatise NHS services

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Campaigners have received backing in their protest against Warwickshire’s 
NHS services being put 
out to competitive tender.

Last week, Warwickshire county councillors voted unanimously in support of a motion put forward by Labour party member John Holland (Warwick West) for the authority to ask three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across the area -including the South Warwickshire group - to reconsider their decisions to sell the out of hospital services to the private sector.

Prof Anna Pollert, of the South Warwickshire Keep Our National Health Service Public campaign group, said: “We know that the current services provided by South Warwickshire Foundation Trust are well received by service users.

“If the South Warwickshire CCG wants to make changes to existing services they should work with the trust to achieve this.

“It is scandalous that the CCG is prepared to waste NHS money on an expensive procurement exercise in order to bring in the private sector.

“This is privatisation by the back door, which we know does not have the support of the public and so we are delighted to hear that Cllr Holland’s motion was unanimously passed at last week’s council meeting.”

Prof Pollert added that this was an important signal from the county council at a time when the NHS and South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) - which currently runs community care - is under ‘huge financial pressure to cut costs and restructure the delivery of services’.

She said: “What is paramount is that the NHS should first have the opportunity to better integrate services.

“Our fear is that the planned series of competitive tenders would, in fact, lead to a disintegration of services and ultimately to an inefficient overall service for the public.”

SWFT currently manages Warwick Hospital and provides services to the community including district nurses, heart failure nurses, diabetes nurses, Parkinson’s nursing, palliative care, day care for the elderly, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and speech therapy.

Dave Sternberg, chairman of Warwick’s Labour Party group, said: “SWFT is currently doing a very good job delivering the community services and this view is held widely by other commissioning groups that use SWFT.

“We must not throw away the considerable added value of keeping the not-for-profit Trust running the out of hospital services which they do with the confidence of local residents and service users, and the staff who deliver the services.

“As has been proved with many ‘privatisations’ the need to make profits for shareholders is not necessarily a good driver for better services.

“In many cases the loss of the social capital built up over many years is later recognised as irretrievable.”

■ We approached the South Warwickshire CCG for a response but at the time of going to print we had not received a reply.