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23 August 2013, 07:43 | Updated: 23 August 2013, 08:28
The Unison Union has spoken of its 'serious concerns' about plans to sell off aspects of Cambridgeshire NHS healthcare.
Private companies are now being invited to bid to run up to £1 billion worth of health services currently run by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group.
The group is responsible for several local aspects of healthcare including end of life care for the elderly.
Private company Circle, which runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital, is said to be among the leading contenders for the five year deal.
Virgin Care and Serco are also believed to be among the front-runners.
However, Unison claims the plan has been described by Labour’s shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham as "the most audacious sell-off to date" within the NHS.
The union's main argument against the proposals centres around a warning that private firms may put profits before patients.
In the union's latest newsletter, Unison said: "The whole proposal is a colossal gamble, in which services for some of the most vulnerable people in the county are at stake, and a huge extra lump of NHS spending could be flowing into private hands – with little if any accountability to local people.
There are likely to be even more bids involving the private sector as a result of the privatising agenda set by the CCG.
Unison have been at the forefront of opposing such changes, believing that public services are better delivered when there is no profit motive involved."
A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group said: "Improving care for older people is one of our key priorities and we are currently looking at the way services are provided.
The CCG is led by GPs who look after many thousands of older people and we have been looking at how doctors, nurses and other professionals can be supported to improve services for older people by working better together.
The CCG's over-riding objective is to improve outcomes and service quality for older people.
The current procurement will encourage existing and new providers to think about how they can better integrate services in order to keep people as well as possible."