West Lancashire community health and urgent services will be privatised from April 2017. However, Unison, which is the largest union for health care workers in the UK, has expressed its anger at this move. West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has criticised the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for going ahead with the privatisation.
Presently, Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust is managing community health and urgent services in the area. However, come April, Virgin Care will be taking over. The CCG stated that all services provided by the trust will be provided by the medical contractor. The CCG emphasised that the services will be part of the NHS and patients can access them for free.
Unison North West Head of Health Amy Barringer stated that the CCG’s decision to stop community services that have been provided by the local NHS trust will result in financial instability in both Southport and Ormskirk hospitals.
Barringer said that the contract between medical contractor Virgin Care and the CCG is complex, especially since the contractor is a for-profit organisation. She believes that this will make it tougher to integrate health and social care services.
Unison Southport and Ormskirk Health Branch Secretary John Flannery stated that the decision to privatise the services would have an adverse effect on the region’s health economy. Flannery said that there was no transparency in the decision taken, and the CCG had not consulted unions, staff and the local population while making its decision. He believes that all stakeholders are against a for-profit company benefitting from public funds.
Flannery also pointed out that the issue of the privatisation of West Lancashire NHS services was taken up on a number of occasions with the CCG, which did not address the concerns raised. Instead, it went ahead and privatised the NHS services.