This site is intended for health professionals only

Private company loses treatment centre contract to NHS trust

Private provider Circle has lost its contract for running an NHS treatment centre to an NHS trust after an ongoing legal dispute.

Rushcliffe CCG has handed over the five-year £320m contract to Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust (NUH).

But Circle, which has run the treatment centre since 2008, said Rushcliffe CCG has ‘run a flawed procurement’ and that the transition of handing over services to the new provider is too ‘rushed’ and ’threatens to undermine the quality and safety of patient care’.

NUH, which will take over the contract on 29 July, said the ongoing legal dispute had affected the timetable.

In a statement on the trust’s website, its chief executive Tracy Taylor said: ‘The timescale for mobilisation has been determined by the multiple legal challenges which Circle Nottingham Ltd have made to the procurement processes relating to the treatment centre over the last 18 months or so.

‘Clearly, we have had to follow the timetable set by those legal proceedings and the constraints that placed on our ability to mobilise. We are prioritising the safe transfer of services and this remains the focus of our discussions with the CCG and Circle.’

She added: ‘Within NUH’s bid we detailed our proposals for further improving efficiency and services by delivering more integrated care pathways, including how services can be better provided across primary, secondary and community care. We will implement our proposals which were the subject of our successful bid in due course.’

However, Circle’s medical director, Dr Massoud Fouladi, said the CCG is pushing through a ‘rushed’ handover of services to NUH in just two months rather than the original transition period of seven months.

He said: ‘Circle believes the commissioners ran a flawed procurement, which does not adequately safeguard the sustainability of the services currently provided.

‘We believe we put in the most credible bid, which would have continued the first-rate patient care, and brought new investment and innovation, along with additional savings, to the local healthcare system, working in partnership with GPs, such as through our teledermatology service.’

He added: ‘We remain highly concerned that the commissioners are seeking to push through a rushed handover of services. They have previously recognised that any orderly transfer to another operator would require a minimum of seven months, yet they are determined to push through a transition in just two months.’

‘Given the tens of thousands of patients cared for at the treatment centre and the complexity of the systems operated there, conducting a handover in such a short period of time threatens to undermine the quality and safety of patient care.’

Amanda Sullivan, accountable office for six CCGs in Nottinghamshire, including Rushcliffe CCG, said: ‘We are working closely with NUH and Circle to ensure that a smooth transition can take place and that all parties work together in the interests of patients. Our priority as commissioners is to protect patient safety and to minimise any disruption as the service changes hands.

‘It’s regrettable that the legal challenge has delayed the conclusion of the procurement process until this point. But we now expect to achieve a smooth transfer of services from Circle to NUH.’

In 2013, NHS England paid £42m to Circle to buy the treatment centre buildings off the private provider, but Circle continued to hold the contract for treating the centre’s patients.