NHS adviser on flop £800m contract had company wound up

Addenbrooke's hospital sign Image copyright PA
Image caption UnitingCare was a consortium of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

A senior adviser on a failed £800m NHS outsourcing contract had previously seen his own company go bust.

Martin Peat played a leading role in awarding the Cambridgeshire contract to provide care for older and disabled people - which collapsed after eight months - to UnitingCare in 2014.

His own consultancy company had folded in 2012, owing the taxman £40,000.

Mr Peat, who started a second company which was also wound up last year, declined to comment.

He had been the senior consultant working on the tender of the UnitingCare project on behalf of NHS business consultants, the Strategic Projects Team (SPT).

The SPT was paid nearly £300,000 for its advice on the project.

As its commercial director, Mr Peat worked on a number of projects across the health service between 2009 and 2015.

Image caption Plans to outsource the contract in 2014 attracted protests from unions

The UnitingCare contract

  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group put services for the care for older and disabled people out to contract to save money
  • UnitingCare, formed of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, won the tender
  • The NHS Strategic Projects Team consulted on the deal - Martin Peat was its lead consultant
  • UnitingCare estimated net savings of £178m to the local health economy by 2020, but a month after the contract began in April 2015 the consortium asked for £34m in extra funding
  • By December 2015, UnitingCare claimed the contract was not financially viable and pulled out of the deal
  • A National Audit Office investigation criticised the planning and the lack of data setting out the true cost of the service
  • The consortium had not taken account of VAT costs and underestimated costs when bidding for the contract

His firm - Martin Peat Consulting Limited - was formed in September 2004.

In March 2012, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) successfully petitioned the High Court to wind up the company and it went into liquidation.

A month earlier, he had formed a second company, MP Health Projects, but by June 2014, that firm was already in financial difficulty.

Last October, HMRC applied for MP Health Projects to be wound-up - a process completed by December.

Image copyright Strategic Projects Team/YouTube
Image caption The Strategic Projects Team worked on projects including the NHS Friends and Family Test

The Strategic Projects Team

Business consultants The Strategic Projects Team was axed last year after criticism from NHS England and the National Audit Office, partly due to its involvement in the UnitingCare scheme.

It had been linked to a series of failed multimillion-pound NHS deals, including the Hinchingbrooke Hospital franchise, Weston Hospital in Weston-Super-Mare and the East of England pathology network.

The SPT boasted of delivering over £6bn of major projects and had success with the NHS Friends and Family Test, a patient ratings system aimed at improving nursing care.

Former SPT managing director Andrew MacPherson said his team "had no knowledge of Martin's personal relationship with HMRC and he has not been banned from trading".

He added Mr Peat was "originally employed by the Strategic Health Authority on the recommendation of the Department of Health, based on long standing successful support to the NHS".

Mr Peat said all matters relating to the contract should be addressed to the NHS, adding it no longer employed him "in any capacity".

He added: "On the other matters raised I have no statement to make."

A spokesman for NHS England said Mr Peat had not led the SPT or the UnitingCare contract.

He said: "The SPT role in the contract was restricted to the process of procurement; the relevant clinical commissioning groups led the contract."

He added that NHS England had not been established in April 2013 and therefore had no involvement in the creation or composition of the SPT.

You can see the full story on Inside Out East at 19:30 GMT on BBC One on Monday 20 March or via iPlayer afterwards.

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