hand petition signed by 2,669 people to health boss
from Burnham-On-Sea and across Somerset have presented a petition
with 2,669 signatures to the Chair of the Clinical Commissioning
Board to air their concerns about the privatisation of NHS services
in the county.
David Rooke, the Chairman of the Somerset Clinical Commissioning
Group - the organisation which is to take over from Somerset Primary
Care Trust when it is abolished in April 2013 - received the petition
from the group, which are called 38 Degrees, and includes Gaynor
Brown from The Care Centre in Burnham-On-Sea's College Street.
The petition was aimed at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group
and stated: "Our NHS is precious, and we're relying on you
to protect it. Please do all you can to stop local health services
being broken up or taken over by irresponsible private companies."
"Protect local NHS services and consult patients properly
before making changes, spend money wisely and dont do deals
with irresponsible private companies, and adopt policies and a
constitution which reflect these values."
well as receiving the petition, Dr Rooke took questions from the
audience of around 25 people, which included several from Burnham.
They expressed concern that a future CCG might commission more
health services from the private sector and this might not represent
value for money and could also change the NHS as they know it.
Dr Rooke said he has always given encouragement to patients, carers
and the public to use the Internet and email to better share their
views and experiences about local health services. He also stressed
to the members of 38 Degrees that they might make their voice
more effectively heard by joining with existing patient representative
organisations in the community, like Somerset's Local Involvement
Network, which will soon be known as Healthwatch by April 2013.
At the meeting, members of 38 Degrees asked Dr Rooke what his
attitude was to commissioning services from private sector companies.
explained that all Clinical Commissioning Groups had to comply
with national and European laws on competitive tendering of services.
This means they cannot discriminate against the private sector
bidding for NHS funded services.
also explained that at times, there is not a clear division between
private sector, the voluntary (not for profit) sector and the
existing NHS service providers, like hospital Trusts.
of all three sectors might be formed to bid to provide an NHS
funded service. However, Dr Rooke was clear that the quality of
any commissioned health service was the primary commissioning
objective and not the lowest cost. He also stressed that in Somerset
the goal was to fully integrate health services so they worked
in close and affective collaborating for the benefit of patients.
Dr Rooke said: "What Somerset CCG is striving for is high
quality integrated health services. I often hear people talking
of the private sector cherry picking services and we are not in
favour of that."
instance, the renal dialysis service in Somerset have been run
by a private company for several years now and I believe it is
a very high quality service. But that is an integrated service
and integrates well with kidney unit in Exeter and the one in
"There are many good examples of high quality private sector
health service provision in Somerset, but I am not in favour of
private sector companies cherry picking services with the effect
that it destabilises our existing NHS services."
want to see integrated care and closer to home. If we are going
out to commission we would be looking to deliver a whole service
not just asking a private company to deliver the easy parts of