Question marks still hang over the future of the advanced PET-CT cancer scanning service.
Rumours are rife that NHS England (NHSE) is on the point of contracting InHealth to take the Thames Valley PET-CT scan service from Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH).
But OUH has confirmed with the Banbury Guardian that after protracted negotiations it will continue to provide the same service it has done since it was first awarded the contract in 2005.
This leaves the unanswered question about what, exactly, will be left for InHealth to do.
“This would be extremely bad news because InHealth would still have their name at the top of the contract even though OUH is going to be doing the vast majority of the work,” said Liz Peretz of Keep Our NHS Public, Oxfordshire.
InHealth became NHSE’s ‘preferred bidder’ after offering to manage the OUH service and install mobile PET-CT scanners at Milton Keynes and Swindon.
NHSE said it wanted to extend scans to localities in a ‘world class service’ even though OUH is renowned globally for its treatment and cancer research.
Two sticking points in the ‘partnership talks’ – which consultants refuse to join over patient safety concerns – are OUH’s insistence on retaining current ‘care pathways’ and costs.
If the protocols remain unchanged, most scans would continue to be done at the Churchill Hospital, leaving InHealth with a fraction of the anticipated work but holding a vast contract.
OUH would be answerable to NHSE. KONP said it believes NHSE is rushing a contract conclusion to circumvent Oxfordshire’s Scrutiny Committee’s attempts to halt matters by appealing to the Secretary of State.
A spokesperson for NHS England said: “NHS England is committed to working with organisations involved to reach a partnership arrangement for the benefit of patients not only in Oxford but also for the first time by opening new and far more convenient services in Swindon and Milton Keynes.”