THE immediate threat to health services in West Sussex has receded following a decision by NHS bosses.
Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has halted the process to find a new operator for a major set of surgical procedures.
It follows the Observer’s A&E SOS campaign to safeguard hospital services, including Accident and Emergency, which received 23,000 signatures.
The decision means elective musculoskeletal (MSK) services will remain with doctors at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester - for now.
Bupa CSH Ltd dramatically pulled out of a £235m MSK contract last month having been named the preferred bidder last year.
The CCG’s decision, announced on Wednesday, means current NHS providers including the hospital trust are the new preferred bidder.
Bosses met on Tuesday and Dr Katie Armstrong, clinical chief officer of the CCG said: “Our GP locality directors, executives and lay-members all contributed to a productive meeting.
“We discussed the legal advice around whether the withdrawal of the preferred bidder meant the CCG needed to go back to the other bidders, start a further procurement exercise or, given the information that has come to light since the announcement of the preferred bidder, whether the CCG is able to commission the service in another way.
“The decision to halt the existing procurement process does not impact on the CCG’s desire to introduce the new service.
“The MSK service model was designed by clinicians and patients and is a strong and well-supported model.
“The CCG will keep all options open, with an aim to introduce the service as quickly as possible.
“We will begin discussions with current providers of MSK services as our preferred approach. Current contracts have been extended to the end of September 2015.”
Western Sussex Hospitals Trust, which runs St Richard’s, Worthing and Southlands hospitals, welcomed the news.
Chief executive Marianne Griffiths said: “We are pleased the CCG’s Clinical Commissioning Executive body has confirmed its preferred approach will now be to begin discussions with current providers of MSK services, including the trust.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with the CCG and other NHS partners to develop an innovative model of care, which will further improve care for all patients of musculoskeletal services.”