FINANCE: A controversial £235m musculoskeletal contract awarded to private provider Bupa as part of a joint venture is to be independently scrutinised following concerns from Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed to commission with the trust an independent impact assessment into the decision to award the contract to a joint venture between Bupa and CSH Surrey.

This follows concerns raised by the trust and local campaigners over the loss of planned care MSK work and the impact this could have on the trust’s emergency work.

Both organisations have said they will accept the outcome of the report.

The CCG has said the contract will not be signed until it is clear where hospital services will be delivered as part of the new service and that local health services will not be destabilised.

Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust previously provided MSK services in the area but unsuccessfully bid for the contract when it was put out to tender.

The trust has expressed concern that the loss of MSK planned care work could destabilise its accident and emergency services.

The contract decision has also been contested by local campaigners, with a 4,000-strong petition circulating around the local community.

Katie Armstrong, clinical chief officer at the CCG, said it wanted to improve services for patients.

“We take the concerns raised by the hospital trust very seriously; we have no intention to close A&E departments or to affect the ability of the local hospital to provide safe and sustainable services.

“This agreement is a positive step forward so we can work alongside the hospital trust and develop a joint understanding of the impact of the new service and ensure local services stay safe.

“The CCG and hospital agree that current services for MSK patients need to be better integrated.”

Chief executive of Western Sussex, Marianne Griffiths, said:  “This joint impact assessment should provide the clearer picture we need of how hospital services will be affected by any new arrangements,”

“I am pleased our concerns have been recognised and will now be explored in full, in partnership,” she added.