The MP for Corby has asked commissioners to clarify their plans should no new operator be found for the town’s urgent care centre.
This morning Corby CCG announced that the only bidder for a new contract to start on October 1 had withdrawn from the bidding process.
The news has left the future of the site unknown once the current operator Lakeside Plus’ contract expires on September 30, with the CCG saying it is ‘considering its options’.
Corby’s MP Tom Pursglove has written to Corby CCG’s chief executive Carole Deghani to clarify the contingency plans.
In the letter, he said: “I am particularly concerned, given that you previously indicated that, during the time of the dispute earlier in the year, the CCG could immediately put arrangements in place at very short notice to ensure no interruption in service were the current service provider to withdraw.
“I would be extremely grateful if you would clarify if this still remains the case and if so, provide greater detail as to what those contingency plans look like.
“I ask, as at a minimum, it should be entirely possible to invoke such contigency plans should no provider be in place as of September 30, at the point at which the current contract expires, not least given that this is still some time away.
“As you know, I have for some time been extremely concerned about the breakdown in relationship between the CCG and Lakeside Plus.
“I am troubled by the specific concerns which have been raised with me by the current provider, and which were the subject of a press release earlier in the week that you will no doubt have had sight of.
“It will undoubtedly be argued that these account for why no viable bids have been received as part of your procurement process.”
Mr Pursglove offered to get all sides around the same table to address concerns and asked the CCG to confirm it remains committed to ensuring there is no loss or interruption in service, that the service remains at the same level and that there will not be sigificant changes to local health services.
Corby Council leader Tom Beattie said: “This is extremely disappointing news and will be a worrying time for Corby residents as well as all of those involved.
“The UCC is a vital service for the people of Corby and it is imperative that this service continues to operate in our borough.
“Corby continues to be a fast-growing place and our community deserve and need to have urgent health services available within their town.
“We are all very well aware that the closure of the UCC would put a huge strain on Kettering General Hospital and this is something that we can’t afford to see happen.
“Corby Council will do all that it can to help the Corby Clinical Commissioning Group keep the centre open.”
Kettering councillor Mick Scrimshaw, who stood in the 2017 General Election, said: “The centre in Corby currently treats over 75,000 patients a year and the inconveniences to them and to KGH would be dramatic.
“I remember when this story first broke a few months ago the response from the NHS was clear; they said the centre “was not closing”.
“I hope therefore they have a contingency plan and can honour that promise.
“I guess the most obvious answer would be to pay more money as the current operators argued that it running the centre was unprofitable as they were being paid less than nationally agreed rates.
“This is therefore the crux of the whole issue and presumably why the one organisation interested in taking on the work has just pulled out of negotiations.
“The whole issue therefore is clearly linked to government funding of the NHS which has clearly not kept up with demand for services and put massive financial pressures on all NHS trusts.
“It also raises massive questions about the privatisation of the NHS.
“As a local councillor I would hope the county council will learn some lessons about relying on others to provide services as it is turning itself into a purely commissioning body and will simply hand out contracts to others to do all the things it had historically done itself.
“I think this is a genuine issue for Kettering and Corby’s two local MPs to get involved in and would urge anyone who is concerned to contact them directly.
“This surely is exactly the sort of issue they should be taking to the heart of Government.
“There isn’t time to have arguments about the wider issue of national NHS funding or governance. Local action is needed now.”