Hospital refuses poor service deal

Bedford Hospital
Bedford Hospital

Bedford Hospital is refusing to sign a contract with a private health provider over fears it will affect its trauma service.

Since the Circle group took over Bedfordshire’s £120 million Musculoskeletal (MSK) Service the hospital has seen a 30 per cent reduction in referrals.

In its November board report, the hospital said this is likely to reduce the trust’s income, which could impact on its trauma service.

The report adds if this continues it will in turn “undermine the ability of A&E to see and admit trauma patients”.

As part of the proposed contract, Circle would not pay the hospital its full fee for physiotherapy appointments which would mean a loss to the department of about £90k.

Circle was given the five-year deal to run MSK services by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) in April this year.

The hospital has since been seeking to negotiate a guaranteed minimum income with BCCG and Circle.

The CCG has declined, citing it would hamper ‘provider efficiency and innovation’ driven by patient choice.

The hospital highlights the trust compares better than most other MSK providers in terms of Care Quality Commission Standards, mortality and infection control.

It concluded there would be no negative impact on patients by not signing.

A BCCG spokesman said: “The negotiations are between Circle and the Hospital 
Trust.

“We are very happy for patients to choose Bedford Hospital for treatment.”

A spokesman for Circle said: “Most hospitals recognise our job is to improve musculoskeletal services, so they are more joined-up for patients and more efficient for the local NHS.

“We’ve had constructive discussions with Bedford and expect to sign a contract in the coming months.

“The new system is led by informed patient choice, so the best way for any hospital to increase the number of patients is to give them what they want.”

A further meeting between all of the three groups is planned.