Physiotherapy patients say they have been left in the dark about their appointments as health chiefs ‘privatise’ the Oxfordshire service.
Campaigners claim the new physio service - to be taken over by Healthshare Ltd on October 2 - is being ‘scattered’ around the county and may not offer the full apparatus currently employed by the NHS under the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT).
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) has refused to say how much will be saved through the new contract. But they said Healthshare Ltd only deals in NHS services and does not do other private work. Healthshare’s website suggests it is expanding its NHS work outside its current London and Kent operations.
Keep the Horton General chairman Keith Strangwood said: “I fear we will see this commercialisation of nearly all services repeated endlessly, all across England, as the NHS is gradually handed over for profit-making.
“We believe this change in physiotherapy is a major change and should have been considered and discussed by elected councillors under our democratic rules at the Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC)”
Banbury’s physiotherapy will be provided at the private Ramsay Centre - where the Australian company also operates under the NHS logo, providing orthopaedic procedures such as hip replacements.
Other physio clinics will be run at GP surgeries, medical centres and community hospitals around the county.
Former Horton consultant physician, Dr Peter Fisher, said: “What is happening to the fairly recently built and well equipped physio department at the Horton? The physio department at the Ramsey is small and used only for brief treatment of post operative patients who have had their operations there.”
Dr Fisher disputed the OCCG’s right to withold detail about the cost or savings.
“They are a public service using public money provided by the taxpayer and should be publicly accountable for the decisions on how it is spent.”
Neil Cook, operations director of Healthshare Ltd, said: “We are very pleased to have been awarded the provision of service from Oxfordshire CCG and are looking forward to improving the service for the local population, particularly in respect to historically high waiting times and in the development of evidence-based, innovative musculo-skeletal services.
“We are in communication with patients, GPs, other local service providers and commissioners in order to manage a safe service transfer on October 2.”
OCCG said others who bid for the contract were Oxfordshire Health Trust, Virgin, Connect Physical Health and Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.
It said the current Horton physiotherapy department would continue to be used for its patients.
Physiotherapy patient Joan Bond of Grimsbury said: “This is another service going to private companies. It is another way we are losing our NHS - but now it’s not small things, it’s big chunks.
“People are walking around blindfolded. Because they don’t need it today, they don’t realise their local physiotherapy service has been taken from the NHS and given to a private company in a private clinic.”
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