For the first time Gloucestershire’s out of hours services for patients is set to be taken over by a private healthcare company. Care UK will take over provision of the primary care service from the publicly funded South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. The trust announced last autumn that due to tightening budgets it would be forced to terminate its contract early to focus efforts on the provision of 999/emergency care.
The “interim” deal with Care UK was made after a competitive tender and evaluation process by the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The private company, which is Britain’s biggest provider of out-of-hours services, will take over on a short-term 10 month contract from June 1, 2017.
Health chiefs in the county say the deal will help ensure high quality and safety for patients during the interim and have promised a seamless transition. But NHS campaigners in Stroud have condemned the move as a damning indictment of the current trend of privatisation in local NHS services.