World-leading cancer screening services will remain at the Churchill Hospital after controversial plans to change the provider of PET-CT scanning in Oxfordshire were reversed. In a joint statement published today, NHS England and Improvement, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT), and InHealth confirmed that OUHFT has retained the service in a move welcomed by local patients and campaigners alike.
Earlier this year, ‘InHealth’ was awarded the contract for PET-CT services across the Thames Valley leading to wide-scale concerns over outcomes for patients in Oxfordshire given the expertise offered by staff and clinicians at the Churchill. While InHealth will provide new scanning facilities in Milton Keynes, Swindon and Reading, there will be no change to the current PET-CT service at the Churchill Hospital.
Local campaigners and cross-party politicians have displayed a united front in criticising the initial decision. Oxfordshire County Council’s Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) promptly intervened and unanimously backed referring the matter to the Secretary of State for Health. Whilst the Secretary of State chose not to examine the issue further, JHOSC’s involvement has been praised by local health bosses.
Councillor Arash Fatemian, JHOSC Chairman and County Councillor the Deddington Division said: “My thanks to all members of HOSC for their hard work on PET-CT scanning. Our continued focus on this important issue and our determination to support OUHFT in providing the best outcomes for Oxfordshire patients has been successful and that is no mean feat. Though the Department for Health rejected our appeal as being premature, I am of no doubt that it was the technical arguments raised on multiple occasions by HOSC members that, combined with pressure from MP's and the public, brought all sides to the negotiating table to achieve this outcome. This is a big win for scrutiny and a great example of how local government can make a very positive difference.”
North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis led the campaign to retain the renowned service in Oxford with parliamentary colleagues. She added: “I’m thrilled OUHFT are retaining PET-CT services on the Churchill site. Their consultants and staff are world-class so it was important that this vital service wasn’t moved away.”