Health campaigners today claimed the NHS is being torn apart “piece by piece” after it was revealed an award-winning service on the Fylde has gone out to private tender.
The services currently operated from Bispham and Rossall hospitals by Spiral Health, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC), have been put out to tender by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
The CIC was set up by the Trust and is co-owned by nurses and staff, but its contract ran out recently.
Under new rules brought in by the Health and Community Care Act, the Trust must openly tender the new contract.
Health campaigners from pressure group Fylde Coast 38 Degrees say the service, which in November received a “Best in Lancashire” award for CICs, could end up being run by a private company.
The group’s chairman Coun David Owen said: “Spiral Health provides a vital link in the chain of local health services. It helps people get back on their feet after a spell in hospital, and prevents unnecessary admissions.
“This, in turn, takes some of the pressure off A&E.
“The service is top quality and most people who use Spiral are extremely appreciative.
“But the tendering system has to operate under Government rules and there is no guarantee Spiral will win. The NHS is being torn apart piece by piece,”
The successful bidder for the 40 general and orthopaedic rehab beds at Rysecar Way, Bispham, will be required to buy the hospital site for around £1.35m.
The organisation taking over the 20 beds at Rossall, under a separate bidding process, will have to transfer them to a site yet to be determined.
Coun Owen added: “We all own and use the health service. It is not something which should be broken up like a used car and sold off to the highest bidders.”
Chris Walbank, business development manager at Spiral Health CIC, said they could not comment while the tendering process was underway.
A spokesman for the Trust said: “We currently commission rehabilitation services in the community from independent providers.
“The contract for these services was agreed on a year to year basis and we are now looking for longer term solutions.
“All our tender processes are transparent and follow EU rules.”