Fears over NHS community services in South Warwickshire after commissioning group puts them out to competitive tender

South Warwickshire’s out of hospital (community) services could be privatised – but the current public NHS provider will bid to keep the contract.

At a meeting this week, South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (SWCCG) took the decision to put the £21 million contract for the area’s community services - which includes day care for the elderly, hospice care and community matrons - out to competitive tender.

But a spokesman for South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT), which runs these services, said: “We are discussing the situation with SWCCG so that we can understand its rationale and approach. If we are required to bid, then we will.

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“Our proposed solution will demonstrate the collaborative working that is currently in place between SWFT, GPs, Warwickshire County Council and other providers to deliver the best out-of-
hospital care and to maintain viable local healthcare services.”

Campaigners who are opposed to the privatisation of NHS services have expressed concerns over the decision and the process by which it was made.

Prof Anna Pollert, chairwoman of the South Warwickshire Keep Our NHS Public group, said: “We have evidence of the broad public opposition to the policy of competitive tendering of out-of-hours hospital services. Our petition asking SWCCG to withdraw its proposal has gathered almost 500 signatures in a few weeks and without publicity in the media. We now hear that SWCCG has gone ahead with an expensive and risky competitive process.”

County councillor Matt Western (Lab, Leamington Willes) was at the SWCCG meeting. He said: “It was extraordinary that for such an important, critical decision, there was no vote as such.

“I just heard a few positive murmurings. However, the committee members were not asked if anyone disagreed or wished to abstain, which I would have thought was a more transparent, democratic way.”