Private firm InHealth to work with NHS on cancer screening

Churchill Hospital Image copyright Steve Daniels
Image caption The deal had been referred to the health secretary in April

A deal between the NHS and a private firm to carry out cancer screening has been made official.

InHealth will provide PET-CT scanning for three hospital trusts, but Oxford's Churchill Hospital will run its own service after 10,000 people signed a petition opposing a change.

Rosalind Pearce, of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said it brought to an end a period of uncertainty.

NHS England said it would create "new and additional services for patients".

The deal will see new scanning facilities at Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust.

'Vital service'

Ms Pearce said: "Not only does it bring to an end the uncertainty surround the future of the service at the Churchill Hospital, but it also offers improved accessibility for patients in the furthest corners of Oxfordshire who can now travel to other centres such as Reading and Swindon.

"We will, however, continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the improvements promised to patients are delivered."

MP Victoria Prentis, who had criticised the deal, said she was "thrilled" Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUHFT) would retain services at the Churchill.

The Conservative MP for North Oxfordshire added: "Their consultants and staff are world-class so it was important that this vital service wasn't moved away from OUHFT."

NHS England and NHS Improvement, OUHFT, and InHealth said the new sites would use "modern mobile scanners, with the aim of putting in place permanent facilities in the longer term".

It added: "This new arrangement will help reduce waiting times, as well as ensuring the easy transfer of scans and scan reports between different doctors and sites in more convenient locations for patients.

"In time, there may also be an opportunity to develop additional local scanning services across the Thames Valley."

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