NHS England has defended a controversial decision to privatise a vital cancer scanning service in Oxford and across the wider Thames Valley, despite the Health Secretary Matt Hancock's pledge earlier this year that there would be no further privatisation of the NHS.

In February Mr Hancock told a parliamentary committee there would be 'no privatisation of the NHS on my watch'.

However, in March it was revealed NHS bosses had struck a deal which would see PET-CT scans in the Thames Valley carried out by private firm InHealth rather than by doctors at the Churchill Hospital.

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In a letter to Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds this week, national health bosses argued the PET-CT scan procurement process began in 2017 and therefore 'predates the Secretary of State's statement', while also stating legislation surrounding privatisation of NHS services 'remains unchanged'.

The privatised service would offer two new mobile scanning centres in Milton Keynes and Swindon, as well as retaining the service in Oxford.

However cancer specialists have raised serious patient care concerns over the new service saying the mobile sites could not offer the same quality of scans as can be provided at the Churchill.

The move has since been referred to Mr Hancock for review.