11:08 Wednesday 1st October 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
PAUL STAINTON: Within the last half an hour it’s been revealed who’s won the contract to run services for the over-65s in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for the next five years. The preferred bidder is the Cambridgeshire organisation Uniting Care Partnership which was one of the three bidders who made the final shortlist for the £800 million contract. It’s a decision that will be warmly welcomed by unions, and certainly the Cambridge MP Julian Huppert who joins me now. Julian, morning.
JULIAN HUPPERT: Hi Paul. It’s great news, isn’t it?
PAUL STAINTON: Well .. I can’t possibly comment. The contract stays within the NHS. is that the right idea for you? Obviously .. .
JULIAN HUPPERT: I think it’s not only good because it’s within the NHS, Uniting Care is Addenbrookes and the Mental Health Trust, but also because this is the right outcome for patients. By bringing together these bits of the NHS that haven’t always worked very well together, what you’ll see is something that looks after older people better than we’ve had before. Anybody who’s been through the system, or had elderly relatives going through it, will know that there are also silos and difficulties between hospital care, community care, mental health care and all the rest, and this will bring it together. So we get something which is better for patients, and also stays within the NHS, so you don’t have to worry about the profit motive.
PAUL STAINTON: It doesn’t necessarily follow though, does it, that you bring failing bits of this and bits of that together, and then you make one bigger successful thing. It doesn’t always follow, does it?
JULIAN HUPPERT: It doesn’t always follow, but in this case there’s been a huge amount of effort put into the bid. There’s some really good stuff coming from the Trust involved.
PAUL STAINTON: Why is it going to make it any different if it’s bigger, and bringing all these bits that are not necessarily working together? Why does that make it work?
JULIAN HUPPERT: Because it means that rather than various different bits being dealt with separately, so community care for an older person for example being procured, being dealt with completely separately from what might happen if they go into hospital, it will be one organisation dealing with all of that. So that you won’t have to worry about how do we make sure that the community care bit has an incentive to look after the person, to get them out of the bed so the bed’s available, you don’t have to worry about that, because there will be one organisation trying to work for the best thing for older people. So that is really good, but also because we’re staying within the NHS, we don’t have the massive disruption for staff. When Labour put out the contract for Hinchinbrooke, one of the consequences was, and of course that went to a private provider, was that there was massive uncertainty for staff, which hit patient care.
PAUL STAINTON: But don’t you get the same problem when you’ve got layers of management like you tend to have in the NHS? That’s one of the criticisms. Don’t you still have that?
JULIAN HUPPERT: This actually, I think, will be able to trim down some of the management, to get them doing more useful things.
PAUL STAINTON: (LAUGHS) Well the NHS has been saying that for years.
JULIAN HUPPERT: Actually what we have in the last few years is fewer managers and more doctors and more nurses. So we are managing to do that. But because it won’t separate organisations having to negotiate with each other all the time, we can cut out a lot of that effort and really focus on looking after patients, and doing some really good new innovative things that will help people. And that’s what it’s all about.
PAUL STAINTON: But wouldn’t a private company be able to throw more cash at it, fresh ideas, come at it from a business angle and run it tighter?
JULIAN HUPPERT: Well let’s look at what has happened in Cambridgeshire, because we’ve had three really big private sector contracts. We’ve had the PFI at Peterborough, and that’s been a disaster, massively over-expensive. We’ve had the PFI at Hinchinbrooke, again disaster, massively over-expensive. And we’ve had the privatisation of Hinchinbrooke Hospital, again causing huge problems. They’ve just been criticised recently.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes but essentially Hinchinbrooke’s been working well.
JULIAN HUPPERT: Well I think if you have a look at the CQC report now, it is deeply deeply problematic. What I was going to say is all three of those that went out to the private sector, the contracts were let out under the last Government of course, which means we had time to see the problems that Labour caused there. They are sucking money out of Cambridgeshire health care. That’s why we have problems, because money is flooding out to pay for those huge PFI contracts, rather than being there to support people.
PAUL STAINTON: I understand there were protests as well against privatisation, weren’t there, outside this meeting yesterday.
JULIAN HUPPERT: Yes there were protests. Various people campaign in different ways. I’ve spent, I hate to think quite how long, but the best part of a year or two, trying to lobby in all the ways that I can, both publicly and privately, trying to work with Addenbrookes and the Mental Health Trust, to help their bid, and to try to persuade the CCG, responding formally to their consultations and all sorts of other things, to get this outcome, because it will be better for people in Cambridgeshire.
PAUL STAINTON: And there’s a ten-day cooling off period now, but it is a done deal though, isn’t it?
JULIAN HUPPERT: There is this cooling off period where the other two bidders, Virgin Care and Care UK are allowed to challenge it if they think the procedure hasn’t been done correctly. But my understanding is that actually, on the scoring matrix that was used by the CCG, it was very very clear that this was the best bid, financially and for patient care. So I don’t think it will be challenged. I’d be very disappointed if it was. I just want to make sure we can get on and have the NHS continue to provide very very high quality care for older people here in Cambridgeshire.
PAUL STAINTON: That’s Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, his reaction to the news that the preferred bidder for services for over-65s in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is Uniting Care Partnership. It’s staying in the hands of the NHS.