Private health centre delayed
Published at 00:00, Friday, 24 November 2006
PLANS to introduce a privately run healthcare centre in Workington has been delayed so the public can be consulted.
The Capture, Assess, Treat and Support centre, based at Workington’s community hospital, would treat NHS patients to help meet strict new government waiting targets.
It was due to be operational by February, but this has been postponed amid growing concerns.
The decision follows threats from health unions of a judicial review.
This has now been withdrawn, but did prompt a rethink among bosses.
Now the chief executives of primary care trusts in Cumbria and Lancashire, which had a similar situation, are arranging to meet county council overview and scrutiny committees to discuss the scope of the consultation.
The government’s aim for the centres, which would be publicly funded, is to offer choice for patients and slash waiting times.
But there are concerns that in Workington, the centre could take work away from existing staff in the minor injuries unit and result in NHS job losses.
The centre has now been put on hold while public consultation and further detailed discussion is held.
Andrew Bennett, head of independent sector commissioning for Cumbria and Lancashire PCTs, said following the recent reorganisation of the PCTs it was felt that “there was now a valuable opportunity to progress to a period of public consultation”.
He said issues such as location of the centres, the impact they will have on other services and the amount of work they will carry out would all be looked at.
Mr Bennett said health union Unison felt there had not been sufficient public consultation about the centres.
The PCTs have subsequently decided that now is a good time to talk to the community.
The preferred bidder for the centre contract is private firm Netcare. It will carry out diagnostic procedures and minor operations that do not require anaesthetic.
If a patient then needs further treatment, they will be given a choice of where that can be carried out.
A spokeswoman for Cumbria PCT said: “We will be looking to commission health services that will mean all patients in Cumbria are treated within 18 weeks by 2008. Our local hospitals are committed to working closely with us to achieve this.”
Workington MP Tony Cunningham and Copeland MP Jamie Reed wrote to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt last month, outlining their concerns about the introduction of the centre.
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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