Friday, November 23, 2007

CATS - the plot thickens

The announcement by the Health Secretary last week that the Lancs and Cumbria CATS project would not proceed appeared at first to be the end of the matter.

I am hearing very mixed messages on this subject, but it now appears as though CATS have risen, Dracula-like, from the grave.

The national announcement means that the Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in Cumbria and Lancashire will not be compelled to buy the service under the national contract. This has to be welcome. In response to a question from myself at a Copeland council meeting on 21st November, the Chief Executive of the North Cumbria Acute Hospitals trust, Marie Burnham, confirmed her view that the national CATS contract would have posed a serious threat to West Cumberland Hospital. She also said that any local CTS arrangement should aim to provide services which are not available at present rather than compete with existing services.

However, later at the same meeting, a representative of the PCT, Peter Clarke, said that they are still considering the possiblity of what he called a "CATS-like solution. I have seen in several quarters the suggestion that private clinics might still be set up to provide Diagnostic and Treatment services.

It is a good thing that we will no longer have a "one-size-fits-all" healthcare model of CATS which does not fit the needs of Cumbria imposed on us by Westminster. But any local proposals will still need to be carefully examined to make sure they could not have a similar prejudicial impact on existing hospitals.


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