January 7, 2016 by Protect Our NHS
Campaigners today celebrated victory against NHS privatisation, and thanked NHS England (NHSE) for listening to their case to keep the Bristol Riverside Adolescent Unit within the NHS.
The Unit, which has received both a ‘Good’ rating from the Care Quality Commission (1) and ‘Excellent’ accreditation from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2), is a specialised service within the Children’s Community Health Partnership (CCHP). Its staff support young people with complex mental health and emotional problems. It is currently run by North Bristol NHS Trust who will cease providing all Bristol’s children’s community health services at the end of March 2016.
NHSE has announced that it will then be transferred to the Avon and Wiltshire NHS Partnership Trust.
Retired GP and Protect our NHS (PoNHS) campaigner, Dr Charlotte Paterson said, “We have been part of a big local campaign to keep all the children’s community services within the NHS. Although no members of the public, patients, carers, or members of staff have been consulted about this award contract, this is a victory for common sense. Clearly our concerns about privatisation got through to commissioners.”
A leading contender for the contract was the Huntercombe Group. Huntercombe, a division of the financially crisis-ridden Four Seasons Healthcare (FSHC), has not been awarded the contract. Instead, their role will be in a consultancy capacity only.
Protect Our NHS believe that NHSE could have had concerns about Huntercombe’s parent company as it is facing a severe financial crisis which was underscored on October 22nd 2015 when FSHC appointed advisers to carry out an emergency review of its finances (3 & 4). On December 27th it was announced that FSHC had sold £20m of properties to Monarch Alternative Capital, an American vulture fund, in a desperate bid to bring in some cash (5 & 6).
Mike Campbell, for Protect Our NHS added, “Private companies, such as Huntercombe, further undermine the future of our NHS by putting patients, staff and the public at risk. Profit is their bottom line. Earlier last year we successfully campaigned against Virgin Care winning the contract to run children’s community health services in Bristol (7). Like Huntercombe, Virgin Care’s company structure also indicates tax avoidance measures. If you look closely at these companies’ ownership they always end up in some tax haven.”
Protect Our NHS and the campaign to protect the Bristol Children’s Community Partnership (CCHP) successfully brought together staff organised in their trade unions, service users, political parties and ordinary members of the public – young and old – to defend the NHS.
Campaigners who have been supported by local MPs, Bristol West MP, Thangam Debonnaire, and Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION contact Dr Charlotte Paterson on 07786 397412 or Mike Campbell on 07891 432224
Further sources of information:
1. Care Quality Commission Report on Riverside: http://www.cqc.org.uk/location/RVJ61?referer=widget4
2. Quality Network in Inpatient CAMHS (Royal College of Psychiatrists) webpage showing accredited units: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/quality/quality,accreditationaudit/qnic1.aspx
6. Four Seasons looks after 20,000 mostly elderly residents making it Britain’s largest care home operator. Monarch is best known in Britain for taking a large stake in the Co-op Bank as the lender came close to collapse in 2013. The aggressive investor usually focuses on the debt of “distressed and bankrupt” companies, according to its website.