MILLIONS of pounds in unpaid debts and the threat of privatisation have left healthcare providers in South Warwickshire at loggerheads.
South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) currently pay South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) to run services such as district nurses, end of life care, hospice and palliative care.
But the seven year £227million out of hours contract has now been put out to tender for NHS and private bidders, with the CCG saying it wants to improve the quality of services, efficiency and value for money.
Alongside the threat of losing the contract, SWFT claim to have been left footing the bill for CCG services which they say have been provided but not paid for.
SWFT chief executive Glen Burley said: “We are owed several million pounds in outstanding payments.
“We have tried to resolve this with the CCG and offered financial compromise but this has not been accepted. Following escalation of the problem the CCG have agreed to use mediation to consider the position.
“This is an unacceptable situation and we therefore hope that the mediation process will help us to arrive at a satisfactory position”
SWFT – which intends to put in a joint bid with the South Warwickshire GP Federation to continue running the contract – say together they are the best provider option as they have local experience and established local services. Trust bosses also believe it is ‘inconceivable’ another organisation would provide community services.
And Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White agrees with the trust, warning the CCG that trying to find a new provider is a waste of time and money.
He told the Observer: “The collaboration between SWFT and our local GPs is an excellent opportunity to continue to improve our local NHS services.
“However, the CCG has unilaterally and in my view, unnecessarily, embarked on a process which will waste time, take up valuable resources and most probably conclude with the same provider – SWFT.
“There is no legal obligation on the CCG to take this course of action – demonstrated by the fact that other local CCGs have opted not to follow competitive processes for the same services. I urge the CCG to rethink this decision and to recognise the professionalism and the quality of care that exists at SWFT.”
But the CCG argue they are acting in the best interest of local residents by putting the contract out to tender.
Spokesman Dr Adrian Parsons said: “Our planning for community services is rooted in our intention to the get the best possible care for people in south Warwickshire.
“As family doctors we know how important our community services are especially to frail elderly people and patients with multiple long-term conditions. Our patients regularly tell us that they want a health and social care system that is more joined up and easier to navigate.
“The community services contract is also worth up to £227m over seven years and as a public body we must be assured that we are awarding that contract to the most capable provider which will provide best value for money in doing so.
“Change is always difficult and we do not underestimate the importance of what we are undertaking. We are committed to involving local people and health professionals in the process and have listened to what they have told us. We have used their feedback to shape our plans for community services and will continue to involve our patients, public and other stakeholders.”