Health chiefs meet campaign groups

Political figures and campaigners celebrate Bupa's decision to withdraw from the MSK contract procurement process
Political figures and campaigners celebrate Bupa's decision to withdraw from the MSK contract procurement process

ALL current musculoskeletal (MSK) contracts in coastal West Sussex will remain in place until the end of September, the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has revealed.

Dr Katie Armstrong, the CCG’s clinical chief officer, said the group was determined to reach a resolution to the £235million MSK contract debacle as soon as possible, but needed to take the time to make sure the group acts correctly.

Following Bupa CSH Ltd’s decision to withdraw from the procurement process of contract, members of Coastal West Sussex 38 degrees and Don’t Cut Us Out were invited to meet Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group chiefs.

“The purpose of the meeting was to hear our views and to discuss key issues and how the CCG might work differently in the future,” said Jan Birtwell of CWS 38 degrees.

“The meeting was constructive. The CCG admitted they had made mistakes in the procurement process and that they wanted to get things right for the future in the interests of improving services for patients.

“They genuinely seem to want to improve services and patient care/experience. We made it clear that we also wanted this but that we do not agree outsourcing/privatisation is the way to do this and will fight future decisions to put services out to tender”.

Dr Armstrong admitted mistakes had been made over the past five months but was keen to point out that the procurement process was correctly followed and was not challenged by any of the bidders involved.

The CCG is currently getting legal advice on what happens next – to be presented to the Clinical Care Commissioning Executive (CCE) on Tuesday.

Margaret Guest, Don’t Cut Us Out chairman, said: “We expect this advice to be made public although the CCG are reluctant to do so. CCE decisions are still to be made behind closed doors which we do not think is acceptable when so much public money is at stake and so much has already been wasted on this needless procurement process – at least £350,000.

“We have also suggested that if the CCG is really serious about learning from its mistakes it must hold full public consultation meetings involving all those likely to be affected by any changes to MSK services including current service providers.”

Dr Armstrong said: “We will absolutely share information, whenever that is possible, about the next steps in relation to this work – and all our commissioning projects.”

All of the minutes from CCE meetings will be published starting from next month.