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Privatisation of York Hospital's Emergency Department

Volume 692: debated on Wednesday 21 April 2021

The petition of residents of the constituency of York Central,

The petitioners of York declare that they oppose all proposals to move access to some services at York Hospital’s Emergency Department (initial assessment, streaming and minor injury care) away from the NHS to a private company; further that the Royal College of Emergency Medicine clearly states that the Emergency Department should control the front door of the Emergency Department, not some third-party organisation; further that clinical governance have not considered how this reorganisation will disrupt patient pathways and clinical networks; further that the governance have not considered how this will impact the clinical supervision of staff and governance of patient care; further that they have not fully engaged with the clinical specialists working in this filed; further that this extends the privatisation of the NHS in a critical care facility and that such a move is not in the interests of patient care or clinical governance within the Emergency Department; further that we are managing a very difficult pandemic where there should be no distraction from the delivery of clinical services; and notes that the Health Secretary expects to bring forward a White Paper outlining a reorganisation of the NHS, which could have implications for access to Emergency Departments, the treatment of minor injuries and trauma and general practice.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls on the Government to recognise that the proposal to outsource work done by the Emergency Department of York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is ill-conceived, poorly timed and against the interests of patients; to prevent this outsourcing to the private sector; and to revise these plans for York Teaching Hospital only when the Government has published its White Paper and subsequent Bill on NHS reorganisation.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Rachael Maskell, Official Report, 24 March 2021; Vol. 691, c. 1026.]


Observations from The Minister for Health (Edward Argar):

The ongoing discussions about the reorganisation of the Emergency Department and Urgent Treatment Centre at York Hospital follow the advice from the Humber, Coast and Vale Integrated Care System (ICS) to the Trust that the current UTC for York residents is non-compliant with the national UTC specification.

The two current providers of the UTC, the Trust itself and Vocare have agreed to continue to work together to ensure that current UTC standards, as set out in Urgent Treatment Centres: Principles and Standards, (NHS England, July 2017, updated February 2021) and Transformation of urgent and emergency Care: models of care and measurement, (NHS England/Improvement, December 2020) can be met as quickly as possible to ensure that York has a fully compliant UTC that best meets patients’ needs.

The Trust Emergency Department will continue to be the chief provider of emergency and urgent care, with Vocare—a pre-existing provider of urgent care services in York for over six years—providing UTC services jointly with the Trust to nationally expected clinical standards. The Trust is contracted to provide emergency services and this is not changing.

The Trust’s emergency department staff have been involved in the discussions about this for some time.

This has included frontline clinical involvement in a series of clinical workshops and a clinical reference group, and all providers have supported and agreed ways of working. A shadow provider alliance board, incorporating all key local organisations, is also being established in April to oversee urgent care integration arrangements. Frontline clinicians will continue to be involved in this work.

Staff employed by the Trust will continue to work jointly with Vocare staff to deliver the service, and establish joint governance arrangements. The triage part of the service will continue to be delivered by trust-employed emergency department staff. No staff will be TUPE transferred from the trust to Vocare.

As this is not a service change, but rather the agreement of further joint governance arrangements between two existing partners, the NHS trust does not believe that hospital managers/staff will be distracted from their important role of delivering clinical services during the pandemic.