8000-signature petition against ‘sell off’ of NHS services
by Elaine O’Flynn, politics reporter
CAMPAIGNERS presented a petition with more than 8000 signatures to health chiefs against the perceived “sell-off” of mental health services.
Around 40 members of Save Bolton Health Services picketed outside the board meeting of the Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is in the process of re-tendering the contract for psychological therapies services.
Group secretary Karen Reissmann also spoke out during the meeting, calling for more information about the new contract and procurement process.
However, she was told by board members her questions would not be answered as they did not form part of the meeting’s agenda.
Chief officer at the Bolton CCG Su Long told campaigners that the organisation intended to spend more on mental health.
She said: “I did make a statement in my letter that I don’t expect this procurement process to lead to privatisation.
“I can’t share the details, and I recognise that you, Karen, are employed by the service, and I recognise that concern.
“I’m very happy to speak to you outside this meeting, but equally I have to do things the right way — there are people here employed by the organisation and I need to tell their organisation what we are doing.
“Board meetings are not a place for a question and answer session, but I am very happy to do it face to face.”
The implementation of the newly contracted service has been pushed back nine months in a move welcomed by campaigners.
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Reissmann said she would take up the opportunity to a sit-down meeting with Ms Long in the near future.
Speaking after the meeting she said: “The petition is an indication that it’s not what the people of Bolton wanted, to see any part of the NHS privatised, and we welcome the opportunity to have those discussions with the CCG.
“If they just wanted to reduce the amount of service, there is no need for them to use the re-tendering process – they say legislation forces them to do it, which we don’t believe it does.
“Once they embark on the process they open the door to privatisation, modern competition law doesn’t mean it is best for service.
“Once you open that door, you can’t push it shut.”
Credit: The Bolton News
Nurse Karen Reissmann against ‘sell off’ of NHS services !
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Additional Reporting: Munreporter.