Protesters lobby health chiefs over South Downs A&E concerns

WH 261114 Anti-Bupa contract protest outside the CCG offices, Goring-by-Sea. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-141126-180411001
WH 261114 Anti-Bupa contract protest outside the CCG offices, Goring-by-Sea. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-141126-180411001

Protesters have rallied to lobby health chiefs in a bid to stop a decision which could put A&E services at risk.

Health workers, patients and councillors gathered outside the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) HQ in Durrington, last Wednesday (November 26) to oppose the decision to hand Musculoskeletal (MSK) services over to Bupa CSH Ltd.

The matter is currently subject to an independent risk assessment, but should it go ahead it could affect the viability of A&E services used by residents of the South Downs.

The reasons are twofold. MSK services are some of the most lucrative in the NHS with the services, such as A&E, losing money.

Therefore the profit-making elements of the NHS are crucial to balance the books and sustain complete services.

Secondly, many surgeons who carry out planned orthopaedic procedures, such as hip replacements, are the same as those who would do emergency surgery.

Many attendees were concerned the CCG would not have carried out the assessment had the public not so profoundly voiced its concerns about the possible risks to services.

Margaret Guest chair of the campaign group Don’t Cut Us Out said: “We were very disappointed that the CCG failed to properly address any of the concerns raised by campaign groups and individual members of the public.

“We will continue to press for transparency of decision-making and full public consultation regarding the changes planned for MSK services. These changes will be momentous and the CCG must be held to account for their decision.”

Both the (CCG) – who handed Bupa the deal – and Western Hospital Trust have said they will abide by the findings of the assessment, which is due to be finished before Christmas. No contract will be signed in the meantime, the CCG has said.

There will again be a protest on Friday December 5 at 9.30am ahead of the West Sussex County Council Health and Social Care (HASC). The committee has the power to refer the matter to Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt.