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Fears over private health firm

PUBLISHED: 20:17 01 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:40 24 August 2010

HUNDREDS of patients could be left in medical limbo after a private firm chosen to care for them refused to say how they will be treated. Connect Physical Health (CPH) was chosen by Camden NHS ahead of the Royal Free Hospital to undertake musculoskeletal

HUNDREDS of patients could be left in medical limbo after a private firm chosen to care for them refused to say how they will be treated.

Connect Physical Health (CPH) was chosen by Camden NHS ahead of the Royal Free Hospital to undertake musculoskeletal treatment (muscle and joint pain) for the whole of the borough.

In a statement at the time Camden NHS said the new service would provide 'early diagnosis and treatment', 'quick access to physiotherapy services following telephone assessment' and 'the option to see specialist clinicians, including consultants, without a visit to hospital'.

When quizzed by the Times as to how exactly patients would be cared for CPH, who are based in Northumberland, refused to say.

The company also had no answer to how their telephone system would account for people who did not speak English in a borough with 120 plus different languages.

Dr Graeme Wilkes, Clinical Lead, CPH, said: "We are unable to comment further at this stage, but specific details will be made available prior to the commencement of the service."

Campaigners called for clarity on the service, which cares for around 7,500 patients a month, and for Camden NHS to re-think their decision.

Candy Udwin, chairwoman, Camden Keep Our NHS Public, said: "When we have a dedicated local team of professionals who know the area and the issues that face it, it seems silly to replace them.

"I can understand if patients feel worried about this as they are not being told how they are going to be cared for. What possible advantage could this have for the borough and the patients?"

Mike Summers, vice-chairman, The Patients Association, a charity promoting the voice of patients, said: "Not only do patients lose their right of choice but it seems that the private companies often fail to provide enough information as to the levels of services they are going to offer and how it compares with the facilities you would get in an NHS hospital.


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