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Fury over PCT's business venture

PUBLISHED: 15:59 01 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:32 12 August 2010

A PRIMARY Care Trust s has been accused of privatisation by the backdoor after bosses unanimously decided to create a social enterprise to provide its community healthcare.

A PRIMARY Care Trust's has been accused of "privatisation by the backdoor" after bosses unanimously decided to create a 'social enterprise' to provide its community healthcare.

Bromley PCT decided to create a new businesses trading for social and environmental purposes to provide its community services, instead of them being provided by an existing Trust.

This follows on from health tsar Lord Ara Darzi's plans to make PCTs act more as commissioners rather than providers.

At a six-hour public meeting last Thursday PCT bosses were presented with two business plan options. The option they rejected was the one chosen by Bexley Care Trust in January this year.

Bexley Care Trust chose Oxleas NHS Trust to provide its community healthcare, even though it currently only provides mental health and learning disability services.

Health campaigner Sue Sulis said: "Bromley had the option to keep the services in the NHS but they chose not to. We would be happy with the Oxleas option as they are NHS and it has regulatory procedures so that patients can appeal.

"From a governance point of view we were told by the chair of the PCT that once a contract has been given they were not prepared to discuss it. They will not allow any scrutiny. That principle has already been established. It is absolutely outrageous.

"It is going to be a separate body. It emphasise that it should be able to compete in the commercial sector. It is an attempt to privatise the NHS as much as possible. The PCT had the option to keep the services public. It is privatisation by the backdoor.

"Every consultation the PCT has been involved in has been a sham."

Community services in Bromley set to be managed by the social enterprise include health visiting, district nurse, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, chiropody, primary care mental health team, speech and language therapy and special dental services.

Now the board members are awaiting a detailed business plan for the social enterprise set to be called Bromley Healthcare, which would be a Community Interest Company - a limited company with a charitable aims.

PCT chief executive Simon Robbins said: "The decision was difficult as Oxleas presented a strong case, but in the end the board saw more potential for developing and improving services and meeting local strategic aims with the innovative approach offered by Bromley Healthcare.

"Their proposal creates the opportunity to bring together GPs, community nurses and other health professionals, social care services and services provided by voluntary organisations in a brand new way for the benefit of local people.

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