The ‘huge challenge’ of changing who runs the Nottingham Treatment Centre from a private firm back to the NHS is progressing well, senior health figures have said.
The contract to run the centre – which is in the grounds of the QMC – was handed to Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) after a prolonged legal battle.
The contract was handed over at the end of July, meaning patients were seen by NUH staff, rather than Circle staff.
The scale of the handover meant 44,642 existing patient bookings had to be transferred across systems, and more than 500 staff transferred their employment from Circle to NUH.
However, there have been cases where patients were informed their appointments were cancelled, only to be informed a few days later that they were in fact not cancelled.
Dr Keith Girling is the medical director at the trust.
He acknowledged it had been a ‘huge challenge’, and that while patient complaints had initially increased, they were now back to normal levels.
He also praised how hard staff had worked during the transition.
He was speaking today (Tuesday, January 14) at the Nottinghamshire County Council Health Scrutiny Committee, and said: “There has been an immense amount of work in transferring from Circle to NUH and I think the teams have worked amazingly well and hard to deliver that.
“I think the patient experience has been maintained and we are now ready to transform the services in the ways we said we would.
“We had more than 40,000 appointments to transfer across at the time we took over, and we completed that ahead of schedule, using effectively a robot to do the movement of appointments from one system to another.
“That allowed it to be done in a couple of weeks, and ahead of what was already a pretty demanding schedule.
“Complaints did rise a little bit in August in the period of transition and people’s uncertainty about what was happening with the change and what was happening with their appointments.
“I’m pleased to say that complaint levels have settled right down. So we’re pleased with that.”
More than £8 million has now been invested in the centre by NUH, in part to buy equipment from Circle such as desks and chairs, and a ‘significant amount’ of clinical equipment has been replaced.
A small number of inpatient beds which had been temporarily closed during the takeover for clinical safety reasons were now fully operational again, Dr Girling confirmed.
Another major piece of work has been installing new CT and MRI scanners.
He said: “The CT scanner which was built into the building is no longer in use.
“We stopped that because it was quite an old machine, and our teams were concerned about radiation from it being outside the levels… they were not quite outside but were quite close.”
“That’s why we’ve got a mobile CT scanner sitting on the road outside.
“That will be replaced by a new CT scanner in the building in the next few weeks.”