Update: 29th July 2016
John Lister has compiled report on the collapse of the Older Peoples and Adults Community contract on behalf of Keep Our NHS Public and in the report he states, “the underlying cause of this collapse was Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 that opened the door to the privatisation and marketization of the NHS. The contract failure and the debts that have ensued have serious implications for Cambridgeshire’s health services. The prospect is one of continuing cuts and search from ‘savings’ to remedy a vast financial black hole that has been opened up by six years of austerity- driven funding, a costly market system, the failure of this contract, and several more years of virtual cash freeze to come.”
July 14th 2016
The report released by the National Audit Office (NAO) on Thursday 14th July into the collapse of the contract for older people’s health services in Cambridgeshire is a damning indictment of the Tory government’s drive to privatise our NHS.
In April last year provision of older people’s and adult community health services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough was taken over by Uniting Care Partnership (UCP), a joint body set up by two local NHS Trusts, Cambridge University Hospitals and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust. This followed a lengthy and very expensive tendering exercise by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which could have resulted in the contract – worth close to a billion pounds over five years – being awarded to a private company. However, after just eight months the contract with UCP collapsed after the CCG refused to meet demands for extra funding to continue with it.
The NAO, an official government body, has delivered this verdict on the situation: “This contract was innovative and ambitious but ultimately an unsuccessful venture, which failed for financial reasons which could, and should, have been foreseen. It had the strong potential to join together all bodies in the local health economy and to deliver better patient care. However, limited oversight and a lack of commercial expertise led to problems that quickly became insurmountable.”
The report says that around £25,000,000 has been wasted as a result of this fiasco – money which clearly the local health economy desperately needs. It also says that lessons have not been learned from previous experiments with privatisation, particularly the Circle contract at Hinchingbrooke.
Stop the NHS Sell-Off – an umbrella group of health campaigns, trade unions and others – warned throughout the whole process that the contract was unworkable and unnecessary, and that the CCG should instead focus on working with existing providers to integrate and improve services. We lobbied all the meetings, collected thousands of signatures on petitions, and ultimately played a significant part in stopping the contract being awarded to the private sector. However, our call for the process to be halted went unheeded, resulting in the sorry – and scandalously wasteful – mess exposed by the NAO. It gives us no satisfaction to say ‘We told you so’ – this fiasco should never have happened in the first place.
We will shortly be releasing our own report into the UCP contract collapse, and its implications for local health services. We are clear that whatever the failings of local health bodies, the chief responsibility lies with the government and its obsession with opening up health services to the private sector, as detailed in the notorious 2012 Health and Social Care Act, the brainchild of former South Cambridgeshire MP and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. We call on the new government to repudiate this discredited piece of legislation, end experiments with privatisation, and restore the NHS as a fully-funded public service.
John Lister has complied a report on behalf of Keep Our NHS Public and has