As you all know, the Churchill Hospital’s cancer services, lead by Nick Maynard are renowned worldwide, annually saving hundreds of lives and preventing cancer from destroying families. One of the most critical in-house teams that makes this possible operate two PET-CT scanners that tell our clinicians exactly what life saving treatments are necessary.
Back in 2016, NHS England (NHSE) were directed by the then Minister of Health, to put PET-CT services out to tender, in an attempt to drive down costs. NHSE claim that they consulted us, the public, over a one month period between January and February 2016 through an online survey. Subsequently, NHSE awarded the PET-CT contract in Oxfordshire to a private company called ‘InHealth’. This company claims that it will at least match the Churchill’s service and that it will require less money.
This has not surprisingly caused a wide and deeply felt public outrage.
Nick Maynard (OOSO Trustee and Head of Cancer, OUHT) responded by saying “ If InHealth take over our PET-CT service, it will undoubtedly cause clinical harm to our patients. This cannot be allowed to proceed.”
Nick is not alone. He has the overwhelming support of all consultants and clinical teams based at the Churchill hospital and the JR; Oxford University researchers; all OUHT patients and their families; and the widest spectrum of Oxfordshire’s residents, councillors and MPs.
A public meeting was held on Thursday 4th April at the County Hall in Oxford where the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) heard a series of three minute presentations from local public interest groups, charities, councillors and members of the public. The presentations put forward all the many very good reasons why the contract with InHealth should be revoked, keeping PET-CT services at the Churchill Hospital.
On behalf of OOSO, Jackie Beaumont presented our position to the committee in front of a room packed with angry people and media representatives carefully taking notes. Jackie made clear, in the strongest terms, our concerns for patient safety and the damage this contract will inflict on the Churchill hospital, its staff and the people of Oxfordshire.
We now await decisions to be made at the highest level. We expect the Minister to revoke the contract and maintain the status quo. Should this not happen, we will pursue the matter further, and if need be take it beyond the Minister.