‘Unique’ health model is at risk

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THE future of locally run community health services in Milton Keynes is in the balance.

The Strategic Health Authority had ruled out plans favoured in the city to bring services such as adult care, mental health provision, children’s services and patients’ safety under the legal authority of Milton Keynes Hospital.

But discussions were opened again after the issue was raised in Parliament by MPs Iain Stewart and Mark Lancaster.

For 10 years, Milton Keynes Community Health Services has worked with Milton Keynes Council to provide health services through integrated budgets and teams.

Until November 2011, MKCHS worked independently to MK Primary Care Trust. At that stage, in line with Government policy to create commissioning only PCTs, it transferred under the legal umbrella of Bedford Hospital NHS Trust.

At the time, moving the service under the power of Milton Keynes Hospital had been avoided because of financial problems there. But with the one-year deal with Bedford Hospital ending, it had been hoped MKCHS could now be brought under MK Hospital.

But bosses at the SHA had other ideas, with plans to put the hosting of the services out to competitive tender within the NHS. If this happened the integrated model of health services in MK would be lost.

Last month Mr Lancaster and Mr Stewart raised the 
issue in the Commons, with Mr Stewart, the member for Milton Keynes South, saying the current system “provides a good role model for elsewhere in the country.”

This week Milton Keynes North member Mr Lancaster said: “We are unique in MK with our integrated health model and I’m determined that the locally preferred solution for community health moving forward should be adopted.”

Mr Stewart added: “I will continue to do what I can to help the parties involved to agree a common sense solution that puts the needs of patients in Milton Keynes first.”

And council cabinet member for health, Councillor Debbie Brock, said: “We’re working closely with colleagues in the PCT and hospital to explore the best arrangements to achieve fully integrated 
local health and adult social care services.”

A spokesman for Milton Keynes Community Health Services said: “We support the development of a long term solution for the provision of community and mental health services in Milton Keynes.

“We are proud of our integrated services and innovative way of working and hope the final solution puts the people who use our services at the centre of their care delivery.”

A spokesmann for NHS Midlands and East said: “Discussions are on-going with relevant local stakeholders regarding Milton Keynes Community Health Services. NHS Midlands and East continues to have a key role in assuring that the process is in the best clinical interests of patients.”