Private firms win two more NHS contracts
Unions have lamented a "sad day for the NHS" after contracts to run two parts of the health service were handed to the private sector.
In one announcement, NSL, a company behind on-street parking and enforcement across the UK, was earmarked as taking over non-urgent patient transport services in most of Devon and Cornwall from South Western Ambulance.
In a second development, private firm Peninsula Community Health – which operates cottage hospitals in Cornwall – Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Cornwall Council, confirmed a contract for back-room office functions had been signed with BT.
Stuart Roden, a regional organiser for Unison, said he was deeply disappointed by the decisions.
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"In my view this is a bad day for the NHS," he said.
"The public sector is in it to provide a public service, while the private sector is in it to make money.
"It's a world of difference."
Mr Roden said staff were deeply worried about their future job security.
"They think this will have an impact on their job security."
NSL, which used to be part of the car parking giant NCP, will take over routine patient transport from the South Western Ambulance Service, part of the NHS family which will retain responsibility for 999 services.
The company will begin operations in October, except in Plymouth and South Devon, after being awarded the five-year contract.
Kernow Clinical Commission Group, the GP-led organisation which took over buying healthcare from the now defunct primary care trusts on April 1, said the decision had been made by its predecessor.
Andrew Abbott, Director of Operations at NHS Kernow, said: "The new service will ensure that patients across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have access to quality non-emergency patient transport services across a greater range of sites and times than previously provided."
Meanwhile Peninsula Community Health (PCH) and Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust formally signed the contract on March 28 to award a range of back-room service such as IT and document management to BT.
Kevin Baber, former Chief Executive of PCH, said it was good news: “Signing the contract marks the start of a great opportunity for us to be able to work together to deliver excellent services.”