NHS staff, campaigners and the local MPs are celebrating after Halton CCG announced it was backing away from plans to award a £25m contract to run two urgent treatment centres to a private firm.

The centres in Widnes and Runcorn are currently run by two NHS trusts, Warrington and Halton Hospitals Foundation Trust and Bridgewater Community Healthcare Foundation Trust . The HSJ reported that a private company – One Primary Care, had been made the preferred bidder prompting one of the NHS providers to threaten a legal challenge.

Local GPs, who were part of the bid had raised their concerns about the plans to outsource services alongside objections from the local MPs, unions and local campaigners. Halton CCG is understood to have abandoned the procurement after considering the responses and the potential delays and costs involved in defending the decision.

Fighting privatisation – far from a lost cause

The HSJ reported that One Primary Care are not considering their own legal action, but the CCG has not confirmed future arrangement beyond saying that they will continue with the current NHS providers in the short term.

Local MP Mike Amesbury, who joined a protest of UNISON members outside the one of the centres in Widnes told the Liverpool Echo

“This is an important victory and just goes to show what can be achieved when we all work together to fight for our NHS.”

Mr Amesbury asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock if privatising the Runcorn UCC was part of his plan. Mr Hancock’s enigmatic reply was: “The most important principle at stake is how to deliver the best possible services for our constituents”.

Paul Evans

director of the NHS Support Federation

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