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Dear Jan Stubbings,
I write to join others in calling on the board of NHS Gloucestershire to halt the proposed transfer of Gloucestershire’s NHS Community Services (including nearly 4000 staff and nine hospitals) out of the NHS and into a “social enterprise”. It is clear from the legal advice that I've heard that NHS Gloucestershire can legally keep services in the NHS and does not have to open the services up to private sector competition. For instance, they could set up a new NHS trust (there is no legal barrier to this; it would be a matter of Department of Health approval).
I have been disappointed by the level of consultation with the public about the plans. I have spoken to literally dozens of people on this issue and it is clear people want their services kept within the NHS. Please can you help ensure that the board pursues one of the options still open to them to enable this. In many other areas in England other Primary Care Trusts have chosen to place these services in existing trusts or newly created trusts and have not considered a Community Interest Companies to be appropriate.
As a private company, the proposed social enterprise will be required to turn a profit and I believe will be forced to cut corners in patient care to do so. As a private non-NHS body it will be saddled with extra VAT and substantial extra costs for administrative functions that were previously provided centrally by the NHS. The new organisation will no longer be publicly owned or accountable, and the public will have little right of redress if problems occur.
I am concerned about what will happen if services are judged to be failing or at the end of the 3 year contract; past evidence suggests contracts will go to multinational companies, as has happened in Hull. Even the award-winning social enterprise Central Surrey Health could not compete for a contract for community services, and these are to be provided by a private healthcare company owned by Virgin.
I hope very much you will be able to act on these points and look forward to hearing from you.
Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward
Letters can be sent via email to email@example.com or in the post to Jan Stubbings, Chief
Executive, NHS Gloucestershire, Sanger House, 5220 Valiant Court, Gloucester Business
Park, Brockworth, Gloucester, GL3 4FE.