Changes will not harm NHS - boss
THE woman who is heading up a restructuring of health services in North Somerset has sought to allay fears that a greater use of private companies will dilute the quality of NHS services.
Dr Mary Backhouse, chief clinical officer, will be responsible for overseeing the local health service shake-up which will see the current NHS North Somerset primary care trust (PCT) replaced.
In its place, next April, will be a local care commissioning group (CCG), which critics have said will bring about a privatisation of healthcare.
The North Somerset CCG will be responsible for an estimated �255million worth of healthcare – about 76 per cent of the funds given to the PCT currently.
All 26 GP surgeries in North Somerset will form part of the CCG as well as services including community care, mental health and acute urgent care for those who may require hospital treatment.
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Dr Backhouse said the change would probably not be noticed by patients straight away but will allow care to be focused more around individuals than before.
But national and regional online petitions have been set up by national campaign group 38 Degrees with more than 60,000 signatories calling for CCGs to be less involved with ‘profit-hungry’ private companies.
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Dr Backhouse dismissed fears that the involvement of private companies in healthcare, such as Virgin, would reduce the quality of NHS care.
She said: “When the NHS brings in new services, it goes through a procurement programme to make sure it (the process) is fair.
“Up until now most of the people who have applied have been NHS public companies.
“When the commissioning process is done, it is very clear to private firms what services are to be provided and they are free.”
All private firms will be closely monitored and Dr Backhouse added whilst private companies will be looking to make a profit, they have still have to be productive or else they will have their contract stripped away.