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Regulator gives private firm Clinicenta ‘zero stars’

By Ian Quinn

Exclusive: A company drafted in by NHS managers to cut GP referrals to hospital provided a poor service and may have ‘put patients at risk', an official report obtained by Pulse concludes.

The Care Quality Commission launched an investigation into the private firm Clinicenta after NHS London suspended its contract following the death of a patient.

The CQC report reveals the firm provided a ‘zero-star service' and failed to ensure staff were adequately trained, or even if they were qualified to work in the UK.

The report will prompt fresh concerns over the quality of private provision being employed by NHS managers to reduce spending on hospital referrals.

Clinicenta won a contract to provide services for 20 PCTs in north London, starting in July last year, providing care at home or in the community for patients requiring pulmonary or cardiac rehabilitation, acute home care out of hospital, end-of-life care or early discharge after suffering a stroke.

But CQC inspectors found a series of failings, including:

•some nursing staff had no proof of their right to work in the UK and outdated visas

•staff were employed before criminal checks were done

•some staff did not provide proof of healthcare experience

•there was no medicine management policy.

The report says: ‘A number of staff did not have all the records to show appropriate recruitment checks were carried out. As a result the agency could be putting people who use the service at risk.'

When NHS London first unveiled the Clincenta contract, some GPs accused NHS managers of top-slicing PBC budgets, devaluing GP commissioning and reducing choice.

NHS London said: ‘Our priority is patient safety and [the decision to suspend the contract] has been taken as a precautionary measure while we conduct a full investigation. About 51 patients being treated by Clinicenta are being transferred back into NHS-run clinics and no new referrals are being accepted. We are unable to give details of the death that occurred.'

A Clincenta spokesperson said: ‘We will co-operate fully with the investigation.'

Clinicenta had been brought in by managers at NHS London to cut the number of GP referrlas to hospital Clinicenta had been brought in by managers at NHS London to cut the number of GP referrlas to hospital Download the full report

To download and read the Care Quality Commission's full report into Clinicenta Out of Hospital Services, please click here.