OXFORD’S Churchill Hospital has been stripped of the contract to provide vital cancer scans to patients across the Thames Valley, with a new deal being handed to a private firm.

According to OUH doctors, NHS England have awarded the contract to InHealth to provide PET-CT scans to hundreds of patients a year, despite Oxford University Hospitals, who has provided the service since 2005, submitting a rival bid.

REACTION - 'Huge concern' over contract being lost 

The move has caused anger among clinicians, health campaigners and politicians who say the move could lead to sick patients having to travel away from the hospital to have the scans, which create an accurate 3D picture to help doctors diagnose cancer, or see how treatment is working.

Many also fear InHealth will not be able to offer the same expertise as that provided by doctors at the Churchill - considered to be a world-leader in cancer services.


It is understood representatives of NHS England visited the PET-CT (positron emission tomography-computed tomography) services at the Churchill yesterday in recognition of the facility's status as a Centre of Excellence.

A letter sent to Governors at Oxford University Hospitals, revealed that chairman at the trust Dame Fiona Caldicott is urging the matter be taken up by the county's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) to then be escalated to secretary of state Matt Hancock.

Campaign group Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) have urged people to write to the OUH board and HOSC claiming the move would undermine patient's health.

While clinicians have raised concerns that the new service, which would be operated from multiple sites, would be unable to offer the same level of treatment to cancer patients.

The new contract comes as part of the second phase of a national drive to recommission PET-CT services across the country.

There are currently 15 PET-CT scanning services, including the two scanners at the Churchill, carrying out more than 41,000 scans each year which will be affected by the procurement process.

It is not known what will happen with the OUH scanners, staff or the other PET-CT-related facilities once the contract is handed over.

Dr Nicola Strickland, President of The Royal College of Radiologists, said the college had stressed the NHS England how important it was that PET-CT services are supplied to the 'very best standard', as the scans are expensive to provide but they often have a huge impact on the next steps of a patient’s treatment.

A spokesman for NHS England said yesterday that the outcome of the procurement will be announced in the coming weeks.

InHealth, has been contacted for a comment.