HEALTH secretary Matt Hancock has refused to review plans to contract out cancer scans in Oxford to a private firm.

The Department of Health has said it is not responding to the referral delivered to the Government last month by Oxfordshire's Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) about the ongoing process to give the contract for the county's PET-CT scanner to InHealth, a private contractor.

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It is currently held by the Oxford University NHS Foundation Trust (OUH)and operates from the Churchill Hospital.

Responding to the decision, East Oxford MP Anneliese Dodds tweeted: "Sec of State for Health has refused to call in Thames Valley PET-CT cancer scan services privatisation, on the grounds that a ‘partnership’ is being sought.

"Will Oxfordshire JHOSC be allowed to call in the partnership? If not, makes a mockery of accountability."

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Campaign group Keep Our NHS Public also called on councillors to 'stand firm' and accused Mr Hancock of 'fobbing off' concerns with talk of a 'partnership' whereby InHealth will be awarded the contract by NHS England, and then will subcontract it back to the OUH.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis said she had requested an 'urgent' meeting with health ministers to discuss the situation and 'remained concerned' about the impact on patients.

Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, Chair of OUH, said: “We are naturally surprised and disappointed that the matter is not being considered further at national level but we remain grateful to the Oxfordshire HOSC for agreeing to our request to examine this issue at a meeting in public and for the support which we have received from our governors, local MPs and others.

"I would also like to thank the many patients who have contacted us to say how much they value the current PET-CT service at the Churchill.

He added: “We will await further developments but in the meantime I would like to reassure patients that we and our clinicians remain focused on the provision of this excellent service.”