The fight against the privatisation of specialist PET-CT scanning services in Oxfordshire, Swindon and Milton Keynes shows no sign of abating, despite determined efforts to face down the protests.
Despite all-party pressure from MPs in Oxfordshire and from the Tory-led County Council, whose Health Oversight & Scrutiny Committee referred the case to health secretary Matt Hancock, he is refusing to review the decision to give the contract to a private company, InHealth.
The Department of Health has also refused to respond. Hancock has said that he will not step in because a “partnership” is being formed between the company, which does not have the specialist staff required to deliver the service, and Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust, which currently runs the service at the Churchill Hospital.
“Partnership” is a strange word to use for an arrangement in which the existing provider is pushed aside by an unwanted private company which is given control of the contract, but the NHS trust is then expected to work for the company to ensure the service is delivered.
Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds has lodged a formal complaint at the scoring system used in the procurement, which resulted in the contract going to a company without facilities or staff to carry it out.
Meanwhile the local National Union of Journalists branch has called a public meeting to challenge the threats by NHS England to use legal action alleging defamation if the Trust or its staff speak out to expose the dangers to patient care posed by the contract.
The meeting on June 20 will argue “We all have a right and a duty to voice and report serious concerns”. Speakers include outspoken cancer specialist Prof Adrian Harris, lawyer Tamsin Allen from Bindmans solicitors who has acted for whistleblowers and NUJ Deputy General Secretary Seamus Dooley