Not only was there no formal consultation, but local patients were meant to get no say on this contract at all. The original plan was to sign the deal in March – before people could have their say at the polls. Labour has said it will not let the project go ahead.
The campaign group I work with – Cancer Not For Profit – fought for more time. When the awarding of the contract was put back until June, we thought that we had won a small victory.
Our source heard differently. The project wasn’t delayed, they were told, but simply hushed up. The political implications of pushing through the biggest privatisation in NHS history two months before a general election were too serious. It had to move forward with speed, and if the contract lacked benchmarks or risk management, forget it. It could all be resolved later. (It is the essence of contract law that weaknesses are generally not resolved later.) The only thing being delayed until after May was the announcement, which would now be made in June. And then a gamble that a new government couldn’t go back on a contract already awarded.
“I’m going to publish,” I told the source. “Tell me if you don’t want me to publish.” I never heard from them again.