A KEY decision is looming on a major set of hospital services which has caused months of controversy.
More than 23,000 people signed the Observer’s A&E SOS campaign from September last year to February.
Now an eagerly-anticipated decision on whether non-emergency treatment like hip replacements and back surgery should stay with St Richard’s Hospital is expected to be made next month.
A public meeting on what the changed service will mean for patients is taking place in Goring next Monday, places are limited and details for how to register are below.
The trust which runs St Richard’s and Worthing Hospital is desperate for musculoskeletal (MSK) treatments to remain in their hands after previously warning both its A&E units would be threatened by losing the multi-million-pound contract.
Private health consortium Bupa CSH Ltd had been named the preferred provider, but having sensationally pulled out because a report found it would put the hospitals into debt, the trust has been challenged with creating a more efficient service.
Mike Jennings, commercial director at Western, said: “We have been working closely with the CCG, as well as other providers of musculo-skeletal services in West Sussex, to develop a new and improved MSK service for patients.
“Our hospitals provide planned hip and knee surgery, rheumatology, physiotherapy, pain management and related diagnostic services, which are linked to other musculo-skeletal services available from a further 15 providers across the county.
“The current arrangement is very complex and can adversely affect the experience.
“We are committed to improving the patient experience and reducing the complexity in the system, which is why we have been contributing our clinical expertise to develop a new model of care to benefit all MSK patients, at all stages of their treatment, both in and out of hospital.”
But a decision on whether it will stay in NHS hands will be made at the end of June, it has just been announced.
Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the NHS decision-makers, could put the contract, due to expire in September, back out for fresh bids.
Rich Hornby, chief financial officer at the CCG, said: “We are continuing to work with our providers of musculoskeletal services to understand if they are capable and willing to become the prime provider of a new MSK service for patients in coastal West Sussex.
He added: “We want to continue to talk to patients and the public about why we are planning these changes, and what the new service will look like for local people.”
At a public meeting on Monday, May 18, in Goring people can find out more about the new service. Register for the meeting by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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