I’ve been working for the last 18 months to help set up the Dorset Health Campaign, an independent group campaigning locally for an NHS that continues to be free at the point of use. We’ve raised concerns about proposals which may lead to the transfer of pathology services from Dorset Community Hospital in Dorchester, to a private Taunton based company.
A report was brought to Dorset County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee recently showing that the existing service at DCH had been prevented from bidding for the new service. Although I am told that should no other tender be successful, the DCH Lab will be considered, I fear this will almost certainly rule out our own, perfectly acceptable, lab from the equation – and also cost local jobs.
There are strong concerns about the impact of a private provider taking on this service. The takeover of the NHS’s biggest pathology laboratories by a consortium led by the multinational Serco recently was followed by a series of clinical and financial failures and saw London hospitals being forced to lend money to the company.
That this process is undertaken correctly is a major cause of concern for residents in rural Dorset. A recent tendering of the non-emergency patient transport service away from the South West Ambulance Trust to private company E-zec has resulted in real problems.
Privatising health services is rarely the most appropriate answer to providing improved quality of health care in a city – in a rural area the impact can be catastrophic.