The privatisation of the scanning service was opposed by doctors, MPs from all parties and patients, however in a letter to the trust lawyers for NHS England said its concerns were defamatory – thought to be the first time libel law has been used against an NHS trust to silence dissent.
Although a massive public outcry forced NHS England to keep PET-CT scans within OUH’s Churchill hospital, the decision to hand the service to private provider InHealth is still going ahead.
University of Oxford professor of medical oncology, Adrian Harris, said patients in Milton Keynes and Swindon will have poorer quality scans compared to those in Oxford because InHealth is setting up mobile units in those areas.
In a letter to local MPs, Harris said, “Patients will have a two-tier system, one in hospital car parks with poor access machines – the Oxford patients (will have better scans) at the Churchill. The new scanners at Oxford are 10 times more sensitive than mobile ones.”
‘Pernicious trend to privatise’
Unite regional officer Jesika Parmar said the move was part of a “pernicious and ever accelerating trend to privatise NHS services”.
“We see no merit in private healthcare companies making profits out of people’s ill-health. That principle stands true whether it is the (Churchill Hospital) in Oxford or any other NHS services,” said Parmar.
“The fact that NHS England said this week that it was taking back in-house the administration of the cervical cancer screening services from Capita in June demonstrates that the flawed outsourcing model does not work.
“This was after it was revealed that more than 40,000 women had not received the appropriate smear test information from the outsourcing giant.”
Palmar said that if privatisation in the NHS is not stopped the next step will be patients having “to dig into their savings, if there are any, for treatment that was once free”.
She added, “Such a development would be an anathema to the British public who really value the ‘free at the point of delivery’ service that the NHS has offered over the last 70 years.”