Private NHS contractor set to take over county’s out of hours service (Stroud News and Journal : 2 February 2017)

OUT of Hours services for patients in Gloucestershire are set to be taken over by a private healthcare company for the first time.

Care UK is poised to take over provision of the primary care service from the publicly funded South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

Due to tightening budgets the NHS Trust announced last autumn it would be forced to terminate its contract early to focus efforts on the provision of 999/emergency care.

The “interim” deal with Care UK was made after a competitive tender and evaluation process by the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The privately contractor, which is Britain’s biggest provider of out-of-hours services, will take over on a short-term 10 month contract from June 1, 2017.

Health chiefs in the county say the deal will help ensure high quality and safety for patients during the interim and have promised a seamless transition.

But NHS campaigners in Stroud have condemned the move as a damning indictment of the current trend of privatisation in local NHS services...read more

 

Ambulance worker says career is ‘down the toilet’ after £6m contract change (Hull Daily Mail: 9 December 2016)

An ambulance worker with 34 years' experience accused NHS bosses of throwing his career "down a toilet" today after they awarded a patient transport contract to a private firm based in Essex.

    Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has come under fire for awarding a £6m patient transportation contract to Thames Ambulance Service, a firm criticised for allowing identical services to descend into chaos days after taking over the contract in North East Lincolnshire.

    Trevor Gray, a patient transport driver, attended a meeting of Hull Health Scrutiny Commission after councillors asked the CCG to outline reasons for awarding the five-year contract, previously held by Yorkshire Ambulance Service, to Thames.

    After CCG executives explained Thames won the contract based on the quality promised in its bid, Mr Gray told them: "I've been in the service 34 years. I've given quality and safety for 34 years and you are just chucking me down the toilet to a firm that are a shambles."

    Thames UK took over the patient transport service on the south bank from East Midlands Ambulance Service on October 1 but its telephone system couldn't cope with the volume of calls, with patients forced to wait hours for transport.

    The firm was subsequently forced to rely on ambulance crews drawn up from Essex to ensure patients had enough access to transport while new staff were recruited to tackle the demand.

    Last month, staff working for the firm in Sussex were also warned they were likely to be made redundant after a firm it worked for, Coperforma, lost a transport contract after months of complaints from customers.

    Around 70 staff currently working for Yorkshire Ambulance Service will transfer to Thames under TUPE rules when the private firm takes over the contract from the NHS organisation in April…(read more)

 

New plans could 'slash, trash and privatise' Coventry's NHS, says city MP and GPs (Coventry Observer: 1 December 2016)

NEW plans to shake-up the NHS have been branded ‘a serious threat to patient services’ by a Coventry MP.

Geoffrey Robinson, MP for Coventry North West, has said he is concerned the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Coventry and Warwickshire could see the closure or relocation of hospitals and A&E departments in the city.

The STPs, drawn up by each of the 44 regions across the country, have been branded by NHS England as a way of improving the health service and ensuring is future.

But there are growing fears they will mean real term cuts to the health service as the NHS tries to implement £22billion of savings by 2021 to balance the books.

The local STP for Coventry and Warwickshire has been drawn up consultants for Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) and led by Andy Hardy, Chief Executive for UHCW, and submitted to NHS England in October.

But there has been no public involvement in the process so far and only a limited public consultation process expected in January.

Arguing the STPs should be renamed ‘Slash, Trash and Privatise’, Mr Robinson said: “What we have here is another attempt to reorganise the NHS by stealth in the name of improved services…read more

 

Derailing the NHS (LRB Blog: 1 December 2016)

 On 17 October 2000, four people were killed and 70 injured in the Hatfield rail crash. A high speed train derailed because of metal fatigue in a section of track that had been tagged for replacement months earlier. Railtrack, the company which had managed the permanent way since British Rail was privatised in 1994, never recovered. In 2001 it went bankrupt, more than £3 billion in debt. In October 2002, responsibility for maintaining railway infrastructure was essentially renationalised with the formation of Network Rail. [...]

NHS England is the quango set up in 2012 to commission NHS health and care services from GPs, dentists and pharmacists in England. Last year it contracted out ‘back office’ services for primary care to the outsourcing giant Capita. The seven-year contract, worth £400 million, was awarded on the understanding that the private company would provide doctors with a better, ‘modernised’ support network, while saving 40 per cent in costs from the day it took over. NHS England has to make £22 billion of ‘efficency’ savings by 2021, of which £1 billion is supposed to come from cost-saving contracts with private providers.

Operating as Primary Care Support England, Capita took over all support services for NHS primary care in England on 1 September 2015, replacing 900 NHS England staff with a workforce of 400. The company is now solely responsible for such functions as moving and storing medical records, making payments to opticians and GP trainees, managing patient registration, updating the list of GPs qualified to work, and providing customer service. But NHS England remains accountable for the quality of the service supplied...read more

 

Staffordshire £1.2bn cancer contract given green light (BBC News: 26 November 2016)

A £1.2bn plan to outsource cancer and end-of-life care in Staffordshire has been given the go-ahead by NHS England.

The project, which has attracted considerable opposition, was put on hold in January after a similar contract in Cambridge was scrapped due to financial concerns.

A 10-year contract in Staffordshire is expected to be up and running by April.

Bidders are believed to include private companies Virgin Healthcare and Interserve.

The deal includes a £690m contract to run cancer care across four Staffordshire clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) - Stafford and Surrounds, Cannock Chase, Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.

The successful bidder will be asked to co-ordinate cancer care throughout the county - from diagnosis through to treatment and end-of-life care.

The CCGs have previously said the aim was to streamline services and "provide the best cancer and end-of-life care for patients".

However, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South Rob Flello, described it as an unpopular and dangerous project that could see a private provider take over NHS care.....read more

 

Virgin wins contracts worth £65m (HSJ: 23 November 2016)

Virgin Care has been awarded two five year contracts to provide community and urgent care services for a clinical commissioning group in Lancashire.

West Lancashire CCG launched a tender process for the services after the Care Quality Commission raised concerns about Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals Trust, the incumbent provider.

The community services contracts are worth £45m over five years

Private firm Optum, Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and Bridgewater Community Healthcare FT were also shortlisted for further discussions about the community services contract, which was previously advertised as being worth £45m over five years.

Optum and Virgin Care were the only bidders shortlisted for the urgent care services contract, including GP out of hours provision and a walk-in centre in Skelmersdale, for a contract worth around £20m over five years.

Virgin Care will start delivering the services in April....read more

 

Government quietly privatises the NHS's in-house agency staff provider (The Independent: 19 November 2016)

The Government is to privatise the NHS’s in-house, publicly-owned provider of agency staff, ministers have announced.

NHS Professionals, the health service’s main staffing agency, provides 90,000 health workers to around a quarter of NHS trusts, covering two million shifts a year.

In a written statement issued on Thursday as most MPs headed back to their constituencies, the Government announced it would sell off a majority stake in the orgnaisation to the private sector with the aim of “creating a profitable business model”.

Labour says the sell-off amounts to further privatisation of a key part of the health service, while the Government claims the private sector will help provide new investment.

It is understood that the Government could invest public funds in the organisation directly through the Treasury but has chosen to use the private sector instead.

“Following market analysis and a thorough appraisal of a business case, the Department’s preferred option is to create a joint venture partnership to bring in the necessary investment and expertise to the business and give the Company greater operational autonomy,” health minister Philip Dunne said in the statement....read more

 

Landmark deal for private firm to run social work service approved (Community Care: 11 November 2016)

Virgin Care will run statutory adult social work services in Bath and North East Somerset from April 2017, in deal believed to be first of its type.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Care will run core adult social work services in Bath and North East Somerset after a £700m contract to reshape community health and social care services was approved last night.

The Conservative-controlled council voted 35-22 in favour of the deal. Earlier in the day the local NHS clinical commissioning group’s board voted unanimously in favour.

From April 2017, Virgin will run more than 200 services under the deal including three statutory services – adult social care, continuing healthcare and children’s community health. The deal marks the first time a privately-owned profit-making firm will deliver statutory adult social work functions.

Unlike in children’s services, there are no laws preventing councils from delegating statutory adult social work functions to profit-making providers.

But previous outsourcing deals by councils have only seen social work run by local authority-owned trading companies or not-for-profit social enterprises spun out of social services departments.....read more

 

Hospital in £135million of debt hands £600MILLION contract to Serco (Mirror: 26 September 2016)

 A hospital trust which is £135million in debt has sparked fury by handing a whopping £600million contract to Serco.

Debt-ridden Barts Health NHS Trust is already in Financial Special Measures because of its alarming cash crisis.

Barts - which cares for 2.5million people in London - has the largest debt in the history of the NHS .

But it has triggered fresh concerns about its financial management by giving outsourcing giant Serco a 10-year contract to run its hospital facilities.

It is the biggest deal the company has won since 2014...read more

 

Virgin Care preferred bidder for £69m community services contract (HSJ: 19 August 2016)

The seven year contract – with an option to extend for a further three years – is being jointly commissioned by Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Bath and North East Somerset Council.

It covers over 200 services currently delivered by more than 60 organisations including: health visiting; speech and language therapy; diabetes nurses; district nurses; the falls prevention team; the independent living service; physiotherapy and reablement services; and palliative care nurses.

Virgin Care was chosen ahead of a consortium led by the social enterprise Sirona Care and Health, which included Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust, Royal United Hospitals Bath Foundation Trust, Dorothy House Hospice Care, and the GP organisation Bath and North East Somerset Enhanced Medical Services.

The rationale for the contract is to integrate the disparate services. Virgin Care will act as a “prime provider”, directly delivering and coordinating services, but with the option to subcontract to other providers where appropriate....read more

 

Virgin Care bags major £700m health and care co-ordination deal (National Health Executive: 19 August 2016)

Virgin Care has been chosen as the preferred bidder to co-ordinate over 200 health and care services in Bath and North East Somerset as part of a major £700m contract.

According to NHS Bath and North East Somerset CCG, the deal is intended to strengthen health and care co-ordination in the region after several complaints from people who claim to “have difficulty finding their way” around the system.

The contract is worth £69.2m a year and will run for seven years, with the option to extend for a further three years, which the CCG and the local council say is in line with their current spending on community services....read more

 

How much is the government really privatising the NHS? (The Guardian: 15 August 2016)

 The myriad different bodies that make up theNHS in England and their opaqueness, especially in terms of contracts to provide services, makes mapping the true extent of the privatisation of public healthcare difficult.

The available evidence bears out Owen Smith’s claim that NHS privatisation is increasing, but it is less of the “explosion” that the Labour leadership hopeful warns about and more of a gradual but inexorable, rise in the proportion of the NHS budget going to firms such as Virgin Care, Care UK and Bupa. It is also noteworthy that the private sector has been making ever bigger inroads into several key areas of NHS care, notably general practice, community services and mental health care.

Department of Health (DH) figures show that the amount of its funding that has gone to “independent sector providers” more than doubled from £4.1bn in 2009-10, Labour’s last year in power, to £8.7bn in 2015-16.

Slow-release privatisation has also seen the percentage of the DH budget finding its way into private hands rising from 4% in 2009-10 to 8% in the last financial year.

A few privatisation contracts involve huge sums. Several GP-led NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Staffordshire caused controversy in 2014-15 when they sought to hand 10-year contracts for cancer and end-of-life care worth £1.2bn to a private provider, though those plans have been held up after NHS England became involved...read more

 

16 CCGs launch integrated NHS 111 and urgent care services (HSJ: 3 August 2016)

Sixteen West Midlands clinical commissioning groups are set to mobilise a new integrated NHS 111, GP out of hours and urgent care service across a population of 4.6 million after awarding a set of contracts worth up to £172m.

In March 2016, Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, on behalf of the 16 CCGs, launched a procurement process for an integrated NHS 111 and out of hours GP services contract. Tender documents revealed the deal was worth between £86.4m and £172.1m, from July 2016 to July 2022. The CCGs have refused reveal the new combined contract value.

Care UK has been chosen to deliver NHS 111 and “clinical hub” services. Four providers have won new contracts for out of hours services in Birmingham South Central, Herefordshire, Sandwell and West Birmingham, and Rugby. The remaining areas have adapted existing out of hours contracts.

The deal is made up of two main elements: a single NHS 111 service for the entire patch, plus individual out of hours contracts for each CCG. An overarching alliance contract links the 111 service to out of hours, with the intention of making the services more integrated than they are at present.

The first element is intended to provide a single point of access through 111 services bringing together urgent care, GP out of hours services, ambulance services and social care. The alliance agreement between providers will allow for closer working between 111, out of hours and urgent care providers....read more

 

Virgin set to take over outstanding GP practice forced to close by £400,000 cuts (GP Online: 20 June 2016)

A GP practice in Essex rated outstanding by the CQC will be taken over next month by the private provider Virgin Care after £400,000 cuts to PMS funding forced existing partners to hand in their notice.

NHS England confirmed the private provider would take control of the Sutherland Lodge Surgery, in Chelmsford, from July.

GP leaders fear the takeover by a commercial provider could be the first of many, as hundreds of PMS practices face huge pressure from sharp reductions in contract funding.

The Essex practice is among the 35% of GP surgeries in England that operate under PMS contracts, which have faced cuts worth more than £200m under a national review process carried out over the past two years....read more

 

CCGs win legal battle over Virgin community contract (HSJ: 1 June 2016)

COMMERCIAL: Kent clinical commissioning groups have won a legal bid to lift the suspension of a contract they awarded to Virgin Care.

Swale CCG and Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG awarded a £127m community services contract to the private firm in January.

However, the move was challenged by incumbent provider Kent Community Health Foundation Trust. It argued the assessment process was flawed and that transferring the work to Virgin Care would cause legal, IT and human resources problems which would affect patient care.

The High Court in February suspended the award of the contract until the trust’s legal case had been made.

The CCGs applied to challenge this earlier this month, and on Friday the court lifted the suspension....read more

 

London CCGs award urgent primary care contract (HSJ: 31 May 2016)

Six south west London clinical commissioning groups have awarded an integrated urgent care contract - combining NHS 111 and out of hours services across several boroughs - to South London Doctors Urgent Care (SLDUC).

The six CCGs involved are Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth. All six have procured NHS 111 services from the provider but only Kingston, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth CCGs have procured an out of hours GP service.

SLDUC will run services for three years from October 2016, with the option to extend for a further two years. HSJ understands NHS 111 services will be run from one clinical hub in Norbiton, while a second hub will provide GP out of hours care across Kingston, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth.

South London Doctors Urgent Care is a partnership between Vocare and South East London Doctors Co-operative (SELDOC). Vocare is an established provider of NHS 111 services nationally, while SELDOC manages the existing GP OOH contract for Sutton CCG, as well as contracts across south east London....read more

 

Virgin and Optum shortlisted for contracts worth £65m (HSJ: 7 March 2016)

Two private companies have been shortlisted in a procurement process for community and urgent care services in Lancashire.

West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group launched the tender after the Care Quality Commission raised concerns about services run by Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals Trust.

Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals has run the community services since 2010

The trust has not been shortlisted and said this was a “very disappointing decision”.

The CCG has invited Optum, Virgin Care, Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and Bridgewater Community Healthcare for further discussions about the community services contract, worth £45m over five years.

Optum and Virgin Care have also been shortlisted in the bidding process for some urgent care services, including GP out of hours provision and a walk-in centre in Skelmersdale. This deal will be worth £20m over five years...read more

 

Legal challenge launched against £126m Virgin Care contract (HSJ: 25 February 2016)

A formal legal challenge has been made to commissioners who awarded a private sector company a £126m community care contract.

Kent Community Health Foundation Trust started proceedings at the High Court on Friday, HSJ can reveal.

Kent Community Health has started proceedings at the High Court

The challenge is to Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group and Swale CCG, who awarded the seven year contract to Virgin Care.

Last week’s challenge triggers an automatic suspension of the awarding of the contract until the case is settled or discontinued.

Kent Community Health made its bid in alliance with Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust, and Virgin’s offer also beat one from Dartford and Gravesham Trust...read more

 

Private sector gets boost from mental health commissioning freeze (HSJ: 17 February 2016)

NHS England’s moratorium on commissioning new specialised mental health services helped deliver new demand and a return to real terms growth for independent providers, according to new research. Market analysts LaingBuisson’s report, shared exclusively with HSJ, also says moving away from block contracts could help open up the mental health sector to more independent providers.

The analysis says independent providers of mental health beds are “enjoying robust demand” with growth back up to an average of 4 per cent a year in the last three years, although profitability has been affected by austerity measures since 2008.

NHS demand for private sector beds, which LaingBuisson estimates accounts for 87 per cent of independent mental health care providers’ revenue, is subject to “ebb and flow” as NHS commissioners turn to private sector beds to meet capacity shortfalls.

The report says: “The demand ‘tide’ has been flowing in favour of independent mental health hospitals in the last few years essentially because of constraints on NHS in-house capacity as a result of an NHS England moratorium on commissioning of new capacity (for centrally commissioned specialised services).” ...read more

 

US firms look to capitalise as NHS becomes increasingly privatised (The Guardian: 8 February 2016)

The patriotically named Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) has seen a big opportunity in working with the NHS since 2006. The company has formed what it calls HCA NHS Ventures, which are partnerships with NHS trusts to provide clinics and hospitals. Though a part of the NHS, these facilities serve only private patients.

HCA has built several state-of-the-art cancer facilities through the partnership such as Harley Street at University College hospital and the Christie clinic. While real estate selling points are normally not part of NHS treatment, Harley Street at University College London boasts that the cancer ward offers “stunning panoramic views across London”. The company also has a number of strictly private hospitals in London, such as the Princess Grace hospital and the Portland hospital. 

HCA, with a market capitalisation of more than $28bn, is known as one of the biggest healthcare facility companies in the US. The company’s UK arm is part of the Private Hospitals Alliance, a lobbying group that supports the role of private company participation in NHS services.

Instead of directly partnering with the NHS, some US companies have entered the UK through acquisitions, hoping to build relationships through existing British companies....read more

 

Call time on the failed NHS privatisation experiment (The Guardian: 8 February 2016)

NHS privatisation in England has increased dramatically since the Health and Social Care Act was passed in 2012. The most recent official figures show that in 2013-14 the NHS paid £6.6bn to private healthcare firms – the equivalent of £18m a day. But despite this huge outlay, there is still no evidence that the private sector is any better, more efficient or cost effective.

Indeed, there have been some spectacular contract failures – Circle at Hinchingbrooke hospital, Serco with Suffolk’s community services, and Arriva and the North West Ambulance Service to name but a few.

With more demands on the NHS, the health service needs stability, and its increasingly stretched health workers need security. They don’t need to be worrying about their pay or their pension being eroded by private equity speculators, or indeed whether they’ll still have a job if the contract fails.

We also have the disturbing situation where many of the 200-plus bodies in England that plan, source and oversee healthcare in their local areas are seeking advice from the very organisations that stand to profit hugely from outsourcing. It’s hardly surprising that these clinical commissioning groups are increasingly awarding contracts outside the NHS...read more

 

Surge in privatisation threatening free NHS treatment, unions say (The Guardian: 8 February 2016)

Trade Unions representing half a million NHS workers have warned that a “surge in privatisation” of the health service risks creating a system based on ability to pay, rather than need. 

In a strongly worded statement, leaders of the major health unions representing staff across theNHS said the growing involvement of private companies threatened one of its core functions: the provision of free treatment based on need.

“There is a real danger that if we continue down this road we could end up with a repeat of the American experience where income, rather than need, dictates the level of care a patient can expect,” said the nine leaders of NHS staff, including midwives, nurses and radiographers.

The warning comes as updated figures show the scale of private-sector involvement in the health service since the government’s unpopular shakeup of the English NHS under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Contracts monitored by the NHS Support Federation campaign group show that private firms have won £5.5bn worth of NHS clinical contracts since April 2013 – more than a third of the total value of contracts put out to tender. So far this year, private companies have won 37% of the £6bn worth of clinical contracts awarded. Others worth £5bn remain in the pipeline...read more

 

Loser of £126m tender challenges commissioners (HSJ: 4 February 2016)

Kent Community Health Foundation Trust submitted a bid for the services last year but was beaten by Virgin Care.

The new community services contract begins on 1 April

The seven year contract was tendered by Swale and Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley clinical commissioning groups last year and announced last month.

The trust made its bid in alliance with Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust. Virgin’s bid also beat Dartford and Gravesham Trust.

Kent Community Health’s acting chief executive, Lesley Strong, told HSJ her organisation was “asking for clarification on a number of issues including how they evaluated Virgin’s mobilisation plan, which is a critical element of the tender scoring”...read more

 

Virgin Care wins Kent community contract (HSJ: 14 January 2016)

Virgin Care has won a contract to provide adult community health services across a swathe of north Kent.

The company won the £18m a year contract covering Dartford, Gravesham, Swanley and Swale. The current provider, Kent Community Health Foundation Trust, has said it scored ”slightly higher” on quality in the assessment process and indicated it lost on price grounds...read more

 

Care UK wins prison healthcare contract in capital (Nursing Times: 7 January 2016)

Independent provider Care UK has won a five-year contract for healthcare services at Wormwood Scrubs prison in West London. The firm will provide primary care, dentistry, optometry, physiotherapy and podiatry services.Meanwhile, mental health services will be subcontracted to Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust.

The contract was previously held by Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust with mental health services subcontracted to Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. The contract begins in April and was awarded by NHS England in December. It will be worth £112m if a two-year option to extend the five-year contract is agreed.

 

Archive of Non-NHS contract award stories 

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