A HOSPITAL chief has raised concerns about patient safety over a decision to outsource vital cancer scans to a private company.

Chief executive of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), Dr Bruno Holthof, said the trust had concerns over 'quality and safety' of the service after it was revealed that the Churchill Hospital will lose the contract to provide PET-CT scans.

Though NHS England say contracts are yet to be signed, doctors at the trust have said national commissioners have all but struck a new deal with private provider InHealth.

Read again: Churchill 'loses' contract for PET-CT scanning

Speaking in front of OUH board members, Dr Holthof said: "We are very concerned about the quality and safety of the service and we have raised the concerns with the national commissioning group.

"We are still in discussions with NHS England specialist commissioning to see how we can continue to provide the high quality and safe service for our patients."

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The move comes as part of the second phase of a national procurement process by NHS England's specialist commissioning team which will ultimately affect PET-CT scanning services across the country.

However, doctors, MPs and health campaigners all fear that outsourcing the scans, are used to diagnose cancer and also to see how well treatment is progressing, would lead to a more disjointed treatment pathway for cancer patients - particularly with the Churchill's PET-CT centre considered to be world-leading in terms of quality and patient care.

Read again: 'Extremely concerned': Victoria Prentis writes to CEO of NHS England over privatised PET-CT scan deal

Dr Holthof's comments are the first time the trust has acknowledged the issue after a number of local MPs and health campaigners have spoken out about the situation.

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On Monday Banbury MP, Victoria Prentis revealed she had written personally to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens to ask for an explanation on the move, while last week East Oxford MP Anneliese Dodds and Abingdon MP Layla Moran both highlighted concerns over the impact on patients and also the outsourcing of a vital NHS service to a private company - a decision which has seemingly been carried out completely behind closed doors.

Also read: Radioactive patients from cancer centre 'could poison schoolchildren'

Adding to the voices of concern this week, Cherwell district councillor and spokesperson for campaign group Labour Health Matters, Cassi Perry, said: "This is a desperate move, a case of forced privatisation - not the first we have seen, certainly not the last they intend, but overwhelmingly the most destructive we have yet seen."

In 2015 a consortium of NHS trusts lodged a formal challenge against NHS England following its decision to hand a 10 year, £80m contract for PET-CT scanning to private firm Alliance Medical, which affected patients across Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire and Lancashire.