This article originally appeared in the Herald Newspaper on 11th September 2019.
As you may be aware there has been some controversy over the process of tendering PET CT Scanning services in our local area.
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) currently provides scanning service in the Cancer Centre at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford. This regional PET-CT service is commissioned by NHS England.
As we understood the situation, OUH tendered to renew the contract to provide the service, but NHS England awarded the new contract to a private provider InHealth. We also understand that local health trusts (Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford Health & OUH) took no part in the commissioning process, nor were they consulted by NHS England.
Whilst in principle I do not oppose competitive tendering for medical services I was concerned about the handling of this tender process by NHS England: OUH provide an excellent service at the Churchill Hospital, and I, alongside other Oxfordshire MPs, wrote to NHS England in March 2019 to ask for an explanation.
We have had several meetings with NHS England in the intervening months, as well as working alongside council colleagues on the Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee to seek reassurances from NHS England about the future of services at the Churchill.
I am therefore delighted to hear the news that NHS England and Improvement, Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust, and InHealth have now signed a formal partnership agreement: it creates new and additional services for patients who need these important services across the Thames Valley provided by InHealth while sustaining the PET-CT scanning service on the Churchill site provided by the OUH.
These brand-new scanning facilities will be based in Milton Keynes (Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust), Swindon (Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) and Reading (Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust) provided by InHealth using highly skilled clinical staff.
The new sites will use modern mobile scanners, with the aim of putting in place permanent facilities in the longer term.
This new arrangement will help reduce waiting times, as well as ensuring the easy transfer of scans and scan reports between different doctors and sites in more convenient locations for patients across the region.
I am glad services at the Churchill are being maintained and new ones provided. It just goes to show what can be achieved when MPs of all parties (and none!) work together.