Patient numbers have been declining for years at a Bradford NHS treatment centre where services are under threat, it has emerged for the first time.
The future of Eccleshill Treatment Centre has been uncertain since the Bradford City and Districts Care Commissioning Groups, which ‘buy in’ services used by city GPs, announced they were unable to accept a bid from Care UK to provide services there.
Care UK has provided a range of treatments since 2010 and had been left as the only bidder for the contract after four other organisations all dropped out of the bidding process, but it has never been made clear why its bid was unsuitable.
The issue was examined last night by members of the health and social care scrutiny committee of Bradford Council and it emerged that one factor in the viability of bids to provide services at Eccleshill is that patient numbers have been in decline since 2010.
Now the CCGs have started a new tendering process for some of the services currently offered, but the future is uncertain. The building is owned by a different wing of the NHS, so is out of the control of the CCGs.
Jane Hazelgrave, chief financial officer for the CCGs, said: “I cannot say the building will be utilised and the staff will be utilised. We are on the edge of a procurement process.”
The centre was built at a cost of £6 million less than ten years ago and there are fears from councillors services will be located elsewhere in future.
“Patient choice” was cited by CCG officials as the reason for the decline in patient numbers but councillors questioned that and suggested GPs may be directing patients to similar services elsewhere.
“I don’t think it is patient choice, GPs are not sending them there,” said Councillor Doreen Lee (Lab, Keighley East).
“They want it closed, they can’t afford to run it.
“They should come out and speak the truth, patients would accept it better and so would I.”
It also emerged that Care UK would have wound up its contract after three years, but the CCGs have agreed to provide some financial support until July, the fourth anniversary of the firm taking up the job.
The CCGs are putting a “different specification” of work out to tender and that could mean some of the major diagnostic services now performed at Eccleshill continuing. “I think we will look back in a few months and everyone will be happy with the solution,” said Mrs Hazelgrave.
The committee has requested a further report after July, when Care UK will end its services at Eccleshill. Criticisms were also raised about the way the public had been informed of developments and the CCGs were asked to take that into account.