Liverpool

NHS abandons switching of Liverpool community health services provider

Hospital ward Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption A health inspection raised a number of concerns at Bridgewater Community Healthcare

Plans to transfer Liverpool community health services to an underperforming trust have been scrapped.

NHS Improvement, which monitors care providers, said it was "not continuing" the switching of services to Bridgewater Community Healthcare (BCH) from Liverpool Community Health Trust.

The former was rated as "requiring improvement" by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2016.

BCH chief executive Colin Scales said the news was "extremely disappointing".

He said the CQC had rated the majority of its services as "good", patients had told the watchdog that care was delivered "with kindness and compassion", and NHS Improvement had known about the ratings when the initial decision was made.

The decision to scrap the transfer of community health services comes a month after NHS Improvement put the process on hold pending a detailed review.

NHS Improvement said: "Following our work to assess the impact of the 'requires improvement' rating on that proposed transaction, we have decided not to continue the transaction with Bridgewater."

It added the decision was "no reflection" on the services delivered by Bridgewater.

Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, with support from Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, will manage services in the short-term.

'Botched and bungled'

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said: "NHS Improvement have confirmed they were wrong to appoint Bridgewater Community Healthcare in the first place."

"It is by NHS Improvement's own hand that we now have the evidence that Bridgewater Community Healthcare were not up to the job of delivering this contract safely within the finance available," added the Labour MP.

"I think it also proves that NHS Improvement are not up to the job either."

Richard Kemp, leader of the Lib Dem group on Liverpool City Council, called for the NHS England's chief executive to intervene following this "botched and bungled tendering process".

Concerns over BCH - which is used by 1.5 million people annually in Bolton, Oldham, Southport, Halton, St Helens, Trafford, Warrington and Wigan - centred on the CQC inspection last summer which measured 40 areas.

While one aspect of the trust was rated as outstanding, and 27 as good, 12 areas were highlighted as requiring improvement.

Inspectors found unsafe practice in the management of medication and end-of-life prescriptions,

Urgent care centres were found not to be following national guidance.

Overall, the trust was given a rating of "requiring improvement".

A spokesman for the Royal College of Nursing said following the decision, the organisation remains concerned about the long term future of services in Liverpool and "the impact on the people who use these services and the staff that work in them".

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