Milton Keynes Labour councillors have raised concerns after an NHS hospitals and cancer specialist claimed that patients from MK would be given second class service after a private contract awarded scanning services to a private healthcare company.
The controversy surrounds the decision by NHS England to award a contract for PET-CT scanning services, used to diagnose and treat cancer, to private company InHealth. The decision has caused an outcry in Oxford, with the University Hospitals NHS Trust, leading specialists, and politicians all concerned over the location and quality of the service being provided.
Hundreds of Milton Keynes NHS cancer patients will be effected, as many patients are referred for specialist treatment to hospitals in Oxford. Worryingly Adrian Harris, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Oxford, has stated that patients from Milton Keynes with cancer who require PET-CT scanning services will now receive second class care, and there are claims that the scanner InHealth will use are massively inferior to those currently used. Concerns related to mobile scanners, which are allegedly to be set up in car parks, are that they can be up to ten times less powerful as the scanners currently located in the NHS hospital.
MK Labour councillors will raise the issue at the upcoming Health & Wellbeing Board, asking the MK CCG if they were consulted on the changes, if they are looking into the concerns and to ensure that no NHS contracts in Milton Keynes are privatised for services provided by MK Hospital. Councillors also want the MK Council Adult Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee to look into the issue.
Cllr Hannah Minns, who will ask the Health & Wellbeing Board the question on Wednesday said: “We are very concerned that Tory privatisation of the NHS in Oxford means that patients in MK might suffer. When NHS hospitals and leading clinicians are worried, we have every right to ask questions about how Tory privatisation is hitting NHS standards. MK patients should not get a second class service of inferior scans, or in portacabins on a car parks.”
She continued: “MK Labour would like to know if our local MK CCG were consulted on this contract, and if they will look into this matter. We also want them to guarantee that similar privatisation of NHS services to private providers will not happen in MK. Councillors in MK must also be able to look into this decision.”
Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council and Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board said: “I am aware the question is being put to the Health & Wellbeing Board and I am sure the MK Clinical Commissioning Group will provide answers to the specific question. These concerns need to be addressed. However on the broader point it shows how fragmented the NHS is right now and that privatisation of the NHS under the Tories is out of control, is undermining care and chipping away at a universal service.”