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Council mulls privatising Brighton and Hove sexual health clinics
12:30pm Tuesday 10th September 2013 in News
A union has raised concerns about the potential privatisation of sexual health services in Brighton and Hove.
Responsibility for commissioning contraception and GUM services transferred from the NHS to the city council in April.
Council public health officials are now considering putting the contract for the services, currently provided by the NHS, out to tender next year.
The change could affect staff working at the Claude Nicol clinic for genito-urinary medicine at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and contraception and sexual health clinics at Morley Street.
The contract will not affect HIV services, which are commissioned by NHS England.
The move has sparked concerns from campaigners about the growing number of formerly NHS-run services being taken over by private companies.
They warn “creeping privatisation” will fragment the NHS and have a detrimental effect on patient care and staff morale.
The GMB in Brighton and Hove are now calling on health bosses to ensure the service continues to be run by the NHS.
Regional organiser Gary Palmer said: “Once again under the guise of claiming that integration of services will be more cost effective, another part of the NHS is potentially going to be placed in the hands of private profiteers.
“The issue is these private organisations will look to maximise profits and doing so will potentially threaten both the pay and terms and conditions of our members and staff, and see a reduction in the quality of the service they provide for the people of Brighton.”
Brighton Hove City Council lead commissioner for sexual health, Stephen Nicholson, said: “Under Brighton and Hove City Council’s contract standing orders we are obliged to ensure that we achieve best value for money from all commissioned services.
“In order to do so this we will be undertaking an open procurement by tender for these services next year.
“As part of the process we will be seeking to ensure greater integration of sexual health services to provide more of a ‘one-stop shop’ model which will improve the patient experience and clinical effectiveness.”
Hearing tests and hearing aid services were taken over in February this year by high street chain Specsavers, Bloom Hearing Specialists Ltd and InHealth Ltd after NHS commissioners put the contract out to tender.
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