Care UK Ltd
Care UK is a private company working in the area of healthcare and residential care. The company has more than 110 care homes across the UK, caring for approximately 6,500 people. In healthcarethe company’s services include treatment centres, GP practices, walk-in centres, out-of-hours GP support and diagnostics facilities. Care UK also provides healthcare at a number of prisons. In 2015 Care UK sold its businesses in mental health, learning disabilities support and care at home.
Its acquisition of Harmoni in November 2012 added Out of Hours GP care covering approximately 8 million people, plus additional GP-led health centres, referral management centres, 111 telephone services, offender healthcare, urgent care and IT services.
Care UK has grown through a process of acquisition and organic growth. Anglia Secure Homes specialised in retirement homes and sheltered housing, then added nursing homes and homecare support. Then in 1994 after being renamed Care UK, the company began acquiring learning disability support, community care and mental health services. In 2003, Care UK began providing secondary healthcare services after winning contracts to run a number of independent sector NHS treatment centres. Later Care UK entered the primary care market with its first GP out-of-hours contract. In recent years Care UK has won contracts to provide GP practices, walk-in centres, and clinical assessment and treatment services (CATS).
A notable move in November 2012 was the acquisition of Harmoni for £48 million, significantly expanding Care UK’s OOH business, including 12 NHS 111 contracts, and prison healthcare business. Following the deal Care UK is reported to provide unscheduled care to approximately 15 million people across England.
Harmoni has been active in the development of telehealth, most recently in May 2012, Harmoni, the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), and Corinium Technologies signed an agreement to use RASAD, an ICT telehealth platform developed and owned by Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) and ASPETAR (the Gulf region’s first orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital in Doha), as part of the UK’s long term health care management programme. Harmoni will use RASAD to remotely monitor patients with conditions that require regular medical observation, such as pulmonary vascular disease.
In June 2015, Care UK's mental health services were sold to Partnerships in Care for an undisclosed sum, its learning disability group was sold to Lifeways, and its homecare division was sold to Mears Group for £11.3 million. Following these divestments, Care UK is fully focused on primary and secondary NHS health services and residential and nursing homes.
For the financial year to the end of September 2015 Care UK reported total revenue of £596 million (continuing businesses) and a loss on continuing operations of £62.6 million (£65.3 million in FY 2014). The residential care home business reported revenue of £246.3 million, up 2.3% on FY 2014, the healthcare business sector reported £341 million in revenue, and Other business reported £9 million in revenue. Care UK reported that 85% of its revenue is derived from NHS or other publically funded contracts.
In March 2010 Care UK was acquired by Bridgepoint in a deal worth £432 million and Care UK was removed from the public markets.
As of September 2015 Care UK was 100% owned by Care UK Health & Social Care Holdings Limited, which is 79.4% owned by funds (Bridgepoint Europe IV) administered by Bridgepoint, and the remaining 19.7% is held by Mike Parish, other members of Care UK’s senior management and a number of Care UK’s employees including the group’s Employee Benefit Trust. The group’s former Chairman, John Nash, holds 0.9% of the issued ordinary share capital.
Care UK has a large number of contracts with CCGs and local councils.
Data collected by the NHS Support Federation estimated that Care UK had been awarded £187.4 million in contract awards since 2010, however this is certainly a significant underestimate of the amount of income Care UK derives each year from work for the NHS. According to the company’s accounts in the year to the end of September 2015 income from NHS work received from CCGs, NHS England and the Department of Health was £341 million, down £5.8 million the previous financial year. If NHS income remains at this level over the next five years Care UK will receive £1.85 billion from the NHS in this period.
Care UK terminated a contract for an out-of-hours service in April 2015. The contract was to provide OOH care in conjunction with Portsmouth Health Limited (a group of local GPs), however the contract, which began in 2012, proved to be loss-making and so Care UK terminated its involvement before the end of the contract.
Care UK has a large number of contracts that cover the following areas:
- Care homes (112 homes with approximately 7,200 beds), plus 12 day care centres
Health Care Services
- 9 specialist hospitals (ISTCs)
- 50 primary care centres, including GP practices and walk-in centres
- Health services in 16 prisons
- 12 NHS out-of-hours services (NHS 111)
- OOH services covering approximately 11.5 million people
Some individual major contracts are
- a 5 year contract with Portsmouth CCG to run St Mary's treatment centre awarded in 2015; Care UK already ran the centre under a previous contract
- a 5 year contract for healthcare services at Wormwood Scrubs prison in West London awarded in December 2015 worth a potential £112 million.
- and, in 2014 a share in a £50 million contract for offender healthcare in HMP Dovegate and Lowdham Grange
Co-founder of Care UK John Nash and his wife have reportedly donated over £300,000 to the Conservative party including £21,000 to the personal office of the former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. John Nash has gained considerable power within government although unelected. In 2010 he was appointed by the UK chancellor, George Osborne to plan the drive for austerity, then in December 2010 he was appointed non-executive director of the Department of Education board. In January 2013, John Nash, received a peerage, becoming Baron Nash of Ewelwe, and became a schools minister in the Conservative government. responsible for among other things, academies and free schools and school capital (including playing fields). He has continued in this role after the Conservatives won the May 2015 UK general elections.
In October 2012 Jim Easton resigned from the NHS Commissioning Board to become Managing Director of Care UK. Jim Easton was responsible for the procurement process for the NHS 111 services, 12 of which were won by Harmoni. Care UK acquired Harmoni a few weeks after Jim Easton joined Care UK.
Since 2009, there have been a number of high profile cases in the national media in which very poor standards of practice by Care UK have been exposed. This included a BBC Panorama investigation which uncovered instances of gross negligence in care homes operated by Care UK. Other incidents include in 2011 the 84 year old woman who was not visited by carers for four days as Care UK thought she was in hospital and in 2012 the lack of processing of 6,000 X-rays at a Care UK-run urgent care centre.
In Suffolk Harmoni’s OOH service was heavily criticised in 2011 then again in 2012, for excessive waiting times and cuts to the service. In 2012 Harmoni reorganised its Suffolk OOH service, including the closure of several bases, including in Newmarket and Aldeburgh. The closure of the bases was reported to be without any consultation with local people. (28,29,30,31)
At the end of 2012, it became evident that things were going badly wrong in Harmoni's out-of-hours business in London. In December 2012, The Guardian exposed a catalogue of failings, noting that senior doctors have complained that the service is so short-staffed that it is routinely unsafe. Harmoni is also reported to have manipulated its performance data to cover up for delays in seeing patients and missed targets. One of the most high profile cases was that of a seven-week-old baby boy who died while in the care of Harmoni's out-of-hours GP service. Harmoni's service was described as "wholly inadequate" by a coroner in February 2013. The coroner noted that Dr Muttu Shantikumar assessed the newborn baby, Axel Peanberg King, in a telephone call lasting just one minute a few hours before he collapsed in his mother's arms, and later made "wholly inadequate entries on the records that were clearly at odds with the evidence". When the baby's mother attended the Harmoni clinic three and a half hours later, she was made to wait with her baby in a queue with six patients ahead of her. The baby died shortly afterwards in the NHS A&E department next door to the clinic.
In May 2013, the Care Quality Commission produced a report on Harmoni noting that cost-cutting at the company may be harming patient care. The routine inspection by the CQC, which was carried out in March 2013, found that Harmoni did not respond quickly enough to calls from patients in north central London because it did not have enough doctors, putting patients “at risk”. The CQC report was highlighted by The Independent, which in its article noted that Harmoni won the contract to provide the out-of-hours service against rival bidder LCWUCC, a non-profit GP organisation in west London, by beating it on price despite scoring worse on quality.
In October 2014 concerns were raised about the quality of care at two care homes run by Care UK in Suffolk, and admissions were suspended by Suffolk County Council after an inspection by the CQC. In November, the CQC again criticised the Mildenhall Lodge home in Suffolk in a second care quality report, which highlighted concerns over how 'low staffing numbers and the use of agency staff who were not familiar with people's needs placed them at potential risk'. (37,38,39)
A BBC Radio Four investigation on the programme Outsourced in January 2013 reported that at three residential care homes in Croydon, Surrey, outsourced by local council to Care UK in 2011, many staff accepted new lower employment terms in exchange for a lump sum of money. Basic pay changed from £11.15 per hour to £6.50 per hour, holiday entitlement was reduced and sick pay changed. Care UK entered agreements with individual employees to buy them out of their terms and conditions. Employees that did not agree were served notice. Those who were dismissed were offered re-employment under the new terms and conditions.
In March 2015, Care UK was listed in an investigation by Richard Murphy a chartered accountant at Tax Research UK, published in The Guardian that highlighted the use of tax havens by private companies with NHS contracts.
In July 2015, Care UK complained to Monitor about the loss of its contract to run the North East London Treatment Centre; Care UK had run it for three years since 2011. In 2015 the new £55 million five year contract for the centre was awarded to Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospital Trust. Care UK has questioned the procurement process and Monitor investigated. At the end of January 2016 Monitor found in favour of Care UK in the first part of the competition case; Monitor reported that it had identified “potential issues” with the procurement process.