UKIP’s West Midlands MEP Jill Seymour has added her weight to the campaign against controversial plans to privatise cancer care services in Staffordshire.
Mrs Seymour was among a crowd which gathered in Stafford’s Victoria Park today on Saturday at a public rally organised by Cancer Not For Profit.
The campaign group has been formed to spearhead the fight against the sale of a £1.2 billion Staffordshire cancer and end of life care contract.
A cross-party group of politicians took to the stage, alongside Gerard Coyne from the Unite trade union – but the clinical commissioning group (CCG) which is pushing forward the plans failed to attend.
Mrs Seymour said: “The lack of representation from the Staffordshire CCG is symptomatic of the problem with this ill-conceived scheme.
“There is no transparency, no accountability, and no openness. Quite the opposite, in fact; it is shrouded in a most suspicious level of secrecy.
“The CCG does not seem to appreciate the importance of involving the public in such radical, far-reaching plans, and listening to what those who will be affected have to say. This is our money, and we deserve a say in how it is spent.”
She added: “I believe the plans should be halted immediately, while the clinical commissioning groups are called to account for their actions before a government panel, and they show that they are taking their public consultation duties seriously.”
Under the current proposals, which are set to be confirmed just days before the next general election, the successful bidder will co-ordinate cancer care throughout Staffordshire - from diagnosis through to treatment and end-of-life care?
It will cover the four CCGs that commission services across the county - Stafford and surrounds, Cannock Chase, Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.
Mrs Seymour said: “This is much more than the handover of £1.2 billion of taxpayers' money. It is part-privatisation of our National Health Service.
“Suddenly, from having the interests of their patients at the forefront of their minds, Staffordshire cancer care services could instead be under the control of a money-making conglomerate which exists primarily to serve the needs of its shareholders.
“Cancer should not be about profit. It should be about giving patients the best possible level of care.
“And until the public gets a cast-iron guarantee that these plans will deliver just that, they need to be stopped in their tracks.”