There were more concerning revelations at last night’s Camden council health scrutiny committee about the plans and activities of NHS Camden.
A deputation from the Camden branch of Keep Our NHS Public, led by Regan Scott, revealed that despite a request to suspend tendering of the out-of-hours GP service, now run by Camidoc, NHS Camden (formerly the PCT) was running a tendering process that was closing today. He said: “It has not been the PCT that told us what it is doing. It was we who found out.”
After an extensive debate — including taking legal advice on the precise definition of “substantial” that provided some light relief — the scrutiny committee agreed to ask NHS Camden to suspend the tender, stating that it believed there were substantial changes to the service being proposed under the terms of the contract – a specific concern was the degree to which face-to-face consultations would be provided by nurses, when they are now with GPs.
Councillors also expressed considerable frustration at the difficulty in obtaining information from NHS Camden sufficient to allow them to fulfil their legal scrutiny task properly. They were particularly concerned about the balance being weighed in the contract between quality and price as the two key factors to judge between the bidders. The NHS Camden’s representative, Liz Wise, indicated she “couldn’t recall” the ratio. Councillors also noted that while the contract made reference to the importance of local knowledge in the general specification, this was not apparently included in the final judgement of the tenders.
The KONHSP delegation also expressed great concern, echoed by councillors, about “the adoption at the last PCT Board meeting of a substantial, highly detailed new ‘Comercial Strategy’ which declares all primary provision of health care in Camden to be a ‘health market’.”