Dr Mark Jones, Chair of NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Over the past few months we have been working with patients and members of the local community to re-procure a minor injuries service in Faversham.
“This was for two reasons: the current contract is due to expire and we wanted Faversham to have a minor injuries service with X-ray, like other minor injuries services in east Kent.
“A lot of time and effort went into the procurement process and attracting interested providers. We were also fortunate to be able to make potential bidders aware that the Friends of the Faversham Cottage Hospital and Community Health Centres were willing to support the purchase of an X-ray machine.
“However, it is with regret that we have to inform you that the procurement was unsuccessful and we were unable to find a new contractor.
“Only one provider made a final bid. The bid was discussed by our governing body members, who have agreed that as the proposal does not meet our clinical specification and financial criteria, the CCG is unable to support it. As a result, we will not be awarding the contract and regrettably the minor injuries service will cease.
“We have requested that the current provider continues until the end of March to allow patients time to adjust, and for us to make them aware of suitable alternatives. Those who, in the past, used the minor injuries service for treatment of minor illnesses will still be able to access care locally through their own GP or pharmacy.”
Dr Simon Lundy, Faversham Town Team lead for NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG said: “I am deeply saddened that we have been unable to find a provider for this service within the budget that is available to us. We understand the concerns that this decision will raise and the CCG will be talking with local people to discuss the outcome and reassure them about local services.
“The CCG is also conducting a community services review which is currently asking people about their experience of using services, including any problems or gaps. We will use this to explore with them which appropriate, alternative services might be put in place from March 2014.”
1. Why is the minor injuries service in Faversham closing?
Following a procurement process which started in July, only one bid for the contract came forward. Following a meeting between the CCG and potential provider it was decided that bid could not be taken forward.
The decision was taken based on clinical and financial grounds.
The specification set out that X-ray should be provided between 8.00am and 8.00pm to correspond with the minor injuries service opening hours. The Friends of the Faversham Cottage Hospital and Community Health Centres offered to provide funding for equipment (not provision of radiographers) and this was made clear in the procurement documents.
In order to meet the financial terms of the tender the sole bidder proposed transporting patients needing an X-ray to an alternative site, which did not meet our clinical specification. This arrangement was proposed by the bidder owing to the lack of suitable accommodation to install an X-ray at the current site, the cost of staffing, and low activity levels. The bidder was also unable to deliver the proposed model within national tariffs for minor injuries services.
2. Why doesn’t the CCG go out to procurement again?
The procurement process that was undertaken was a thorough and rigorous one. Providers were interested, but the bids just failed to materialise.
We had 19 expressions of interest, eight providers attended a bidders event but only one provider submitted a bid.
3. When will the minor injuries service close?
The current contract for the Faversham minor injuries service is due to end in January 2014. We are now in negotiations with the current service provider, to see if we can extend the existing contract until the end of March 2014. After this time the minor injuries service in Faversham will unfortunately have to close.
4. Why doesn’t the CCG just keep extending the contract?
The present service does not meet the clinical requirements for minor injuries services set out by the CCG, nor does it correspond to the national tariff for such services that the CCG must now follow.
5. Where will be people now have to go for minor injuries services instead?
Minor injuries services are provided in Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital and Estuary View, Whitstable as well as Kent and Canterbury Hospital’s Emergency Care Centre. It is also important to remember that there is overlap between the services a minor injuries service can provide and those available at GP practices and pharmacies. Pharmacists can also provide health advice and guidance on common illnesses such as colds, flu, vomiting, diarrhoea.
All 22 GP practices across the Canterbury, Faversham, Herne Bay, Whitstable, Sandwich and Ash areas are signed up to the ‘Professional Standards for Urgent Care’. This means that patients requiring urgent attention should always be offered the most appropriate type of appointment with a doctor or nurse, either face-to-face, over the phone or at home.
6. Is this just a cost cutting exercise?
No. It was our intention to improve the quality of care and ensure we were providing a best value for money minor injuries service. We have tried everything to try and find a provider that can provide us with a financially viable service within national tariff.
7. Isn’t this just the next step in closing Faversham Cottage Hospital?
No. Other services provided at the hospital are not affected by the closure of the minor injuries service.
8. How can this decision be made when you haven’t completed the community services review?
The community services review, initiated recently, is a project to look at the best possible way of organising and delivering community-based services for the future. This is a wide ranging review looking at services delivered in people's homes, GP practices and community hospitals. We are in the process of carrying out a survey with local people to help us design sustainable model of community services more closely centred around the needs of patients and carers. People’s feedback between now and 20 December, when the survey closes, will help us identify how well these services are currently delivered so we can improve them for the future.
9. Who should I contact if I have a complaint?
If you would like to make a complaint about the closure of the minor injuries service at Faversham Cottage Hospital, please contact Kent and Medway Commissioning Support (KMCS), which handles complaints on behalf of NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group.
Telephone: 03000 42 42 44 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm)
Write to: KMCS, Complaints Team, Kent House, 81 Station Road, Ashford, TN23 1PP