MSK services to stay in NHS

Treatment for people with musculoskeletal (MSK) problems in West Sussex looks set to remain under the NHS. Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) previously announced in September that Bupa was its preferred bidder for the £235m musculoskeletal services contract.

Campaigners including UNISON West Sussex called for an independent assessment of the impact of the decision. Bupa CSH pulled out of the process when the assessment revealed it could cost Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in Worthing and Chichester, £13.4 million over four years.

The CCG has announced it has now begun direct, formal contract negotiations with the hospital trust to become the prime provider of MSK services. This is fantastic news and a vindication for campaigners who knew the service would only be safe in public hands.

The decision followed months of lobbying – including demonstrations and petitions – by UNISON members and campaign groups including ‘Don’t Cut Us Out’ and ‘Sussex Defend the NHS’. They said NHS services should be kept within the NHS and not handed out to private contractors.

The CCG has promised to keep the public and local stakeholders informed of progress. The contract process so far has cost the CCG about £350,000, a dreadful waste of public money.