A union official has criticised a Labour council for putting 11 experienced health trainers out of a job after it chose a private company over the existing NHS provider.
The decision by Stockton Borough Council to award the contract to provide health trainer services to the private Leeds-based company More Life in preference to the existing providers – a team of 11 health trainers employed by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust – means the NHS in the North-East is facing a redundancy bill for more than £200,000.
But the council defended its actions describing the NHS bid for the contract as “very poor” and stressing that the authority was heavily investing in a new family weight management service.
In 2005 the North-East was among the first areas in the country to benefit from NHS personal trainers.
But since public health budgets were switched from the NHS to local councils some contracts have been awarded to private companies.
More Life’s website says the company delivers weight management and health improvement programmes to individuals, families, local communities and within workplaces and has an impressive track record.
It was founded by Professor Paul Gately, one of the UK’s most respected experts in obesity and nutrition
“We are determined to get clear answers from Stockton Council and the trust as to why this has happened and why our members are facing redundancy instead of transferring to the new provider. It’s simply not right and we need to get to the bottom of this quickly. “
Stockton Borough Council’s director of public health, Peter Kelly, said:
“The Stockton Health and Wellbeing board has commissioned a new service for children and family weight management investing £1.4 million over the next three years and in addition to this is also currently investing nearly £200,000 per year in services for adults. North Tees and Hartlepool Trust was one of the bidders for the new service but the quality of its submission was very poor.”
Source – Northern Echo, 27 Mar 2015
The controversial sell-off of the Land Registry was abandoned yesterday (Monday, July 14), after ministers admitted it had run into overwhelming opposition.
The likely £1bn privatisation of the 150-year-old institution – which employs more than 400 civil servants in Durham City – was suspended indefinitely, MPs were told in a statement.
The decision followed strong criticism from solicitors and trades unions about putting a private firm in charge of all land and property data and the threat of higher charges for the public.
Yesterday, the Department for Business (BIS) admitted that 91 per cent of respondents to its consultation did not believe the shake-up would deliver services “more efficiently and effectively”.
In addition, 88 per cent of respondents “did not agree that the overall design provides the right checks and balances to protect the integrity of the register”.
In recent weeks, the Liberal Democrats had made clear they were getting cold feet – over a deal that the Conservatives hoped would raise substantial funds for the Treasury.
Business minister Michael Fallon told MPs: “Given the importance of the Land Registry to the effective operation of the UK property market, we have concluded that further consideration would be valuable.
However, Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods – while welcoming the move – urged ministers to come clean about their long-term intentions for the Land Registry.
Although officials briefed that the sale had been “abandoned”, BIS also said it still favoured privatisation and would continue to “develop the policy”.
Ms Blackman-Woods said: “I want them to scrap the whole idea, not just put it on hold this side of the general election.
“I will be writing to Vince Cable and Michael Fallon, asking them to accept the overwhelming evidence that this privatisation would create a conflict of interest and that people would not trust the data as much.”
Leading City firms had been approached for their advice on setting up a joint venture between the government and a private company, to take charge of the Land Registry.
BIS also considered turning it into a state-owned company that could be sold off, or letting a private company run the body as a so-called ‘GovCo’.
Yesterday, officials denied the U-turn was connected to fierce criticism of Dr Cable over the sell-off of Royal Mail – allegedly at a £1bn loss.
BIS also made clear that the Land Registry would press ahead with creating a single register, instead of separate lists maintained and delivered by 348 local authorities.
It said standardising fees and turnaround times would end the situation where fees vary between £3 and £96 across the country – and turnaround times between one and 42 days.
Source – Durham Times, 15 July 2014
A private company that runs a Newcastle GP practice will end its contract more than two years early.
Grainger GP Practice at Elswick Health Centre was controversially taken over by Care UK in September 2012 and was committed to run the service until the end of August 2017.
The move sparked fierce opposition from health professionals and campaign groups as they claimed the company did not have a record of delivering high-quality GP care in deprived areas.
Now Care UK has announced it will exit its five-year contract halfway through its tenure and depart at the end of January next year. The company refused to give reasons as to why the contract was ending early.
Doctor Leah McAleer left Grainger GP Practice following the appointment of Care UK, and campaign group Keep Our NHS Public North East has always had concerns about the private company.
Martin Manasse, a member of the campaign group said: “It is shameful that Care UK is exiting their contract early, but I believe it was predictable. We said when the company took over that the money available from their bid was not enough for what they claimed they were going to do with the GP practice.”
Approximately 7,000 patients are registered with Grainger GP Practice and health chiefs have insisted that patients do not need to register elsewhere as they remain confident an alternative provider can be secured without any disruption.
The announcement by Care UK comes just weeks after nearby Scotswood GP practice was told that it is under threat following a recent contract review of its provider.
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah said: “Patients deserve continuity of care if we are going to overcome health inequalities. Patients need to have trust in GP services and that comes by building up a relationship with those who run services. If care providers come in and exit for unknown reasons then that damages services.”
Patients registered with the doctors’ practice in Elswick have received a letter informing them of the changes.
A Care UK spokesperson said: “Since being chosen to run the Grainger Medical Practice we have worked hard to improve the service for local people.
“However, after reviewing our business strategy and having conversations with the commissioner, it was decided that Care UK will not run the service past January 2015. We are committed to working closely with the commissioner and whoever is chosen to run the service after us to ensure the practice’s 7,000 patients are not affected in any way by a change of provider.”
The Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear area team of NHS England is responsible for commissioning GP services in the local area and will seek the views of patients.
Dr Mike Prentice, medical director for the team, said: “We recognise the need for a GP practice in the area and are confident that an alternative provider can be secured in this time frame, and that there will be no disruption to patients.
“We have written to all patients to let them know about this change. There is no need to re-register with another GP, though patients do have that option if they wish.
“This is a good opportunity for people to let us know if there are things we can do to improve the service, and we will be contacting patients again in the near future to ask for their views.
“Ensuring continuity of access to high quality care and services remains our top priority.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle 03 May 2014