The private provider of sonography services, Bestcare Diagnostics, has gone into voluntary liquidation, leaving several members of staff unpaid, according to the Manchester Evening News. An ongoing investigation into 1800 scans on NHS patients performed by the company is already taking place.

The company had provided sonography services across much of Greater Manchester, including in Rochdale, Wigan and Oldham, over the past four years. However, in December 2019 the lead commissioner Salford CCG, stepped in to stop the Stockport-based company from practising due to ‘concerns over the quality of the service provided’. The suspension came into force on 1 January 2020.

According to Salford CCG board papers the service provided by Bestcare Diagnostics was suspended for an initial period of six weeks, due to a number of concerns relating to Quality, Information Governance and Finance being identified.

Bestcare Diagnostics was a provider of sonography services, commissioned under ‘Any Qualified Provider (AQP) – Non-Obstetric Ultrasound Services (NOUS)’.

Members of staff now claim they were not paid for work they did in December and some have also not been paid for November. It is understood about a dozen former employees are owed money and they told the Manchester Evening News that they were given no notice that the company was to be wound up and the directors Sohail Ahmad Khan and his wife Rukhsana Tarannum, have not answered phone calls or emails.

In 2019, one of the company’s directors, Sohail Ahmad Khan stood down and control passed to Rukhsana Tarannum. Dr Khan has since set up a new company, Supreme Care Health Solution, which is not registered with the CQC.

In 2018, Salford CCG had been contacted by Coastal West Sussex CCG about its own concerns about Bestcare Diagnostics’ work. Coastal West Sussex CCG had concerns around safeguarding, complaints and incident investigations, and staff supervision. Salford CCG and the other Greater Manchester CCGs carried out their own investigations and did not find any significant concerns in their area at the time.

In Coastal West Sussex, where Bestcare Diagnostics carried out work as part of the any-qualified provider (AQP) contract for non-obstetric ultrasound scans from April 2017, the concerns revolved around quality and safety.

The Sussex contract was suspended in September 2018 over what the CCG said were “quality issues”. Then in spring 2019 new information came to light about the work carried out by two sonographers employed by Bestcare Diagnostics, who worked for the company between April and August 2018.

As a result of the new information, the CCG has reviewed 1,800 scans, including contacting the patients. The second stage of the review is now looking at whether any harm was caused to the patients.

GMB warns that patient transport services near “crisis point”

Medi 1, a provider of non-emergency patient transport services in Sussex, has gone into receivership, after getting into financial difficulties. This has left around 30 staff members unpaid and without work.

Medi 1 was contracted to run non-emergency patient transport services to hospitals across Sussex.

The GMB union has warned that non-emergency patient services are now nearing “crisis point”, and has called on health chiefs to bring the services in-house by contracting them to the NHS-run South Central Ambulance Service.

GMB regional organiser, Gary Palmer, is concerned that Medi 1 will just “re-present itself to the market in another form”.

Palmer noted that:  “The indecision of the CCGs in Sussex means I wouldn’t be surprised if South Central Ambulance Service eventually has had enough.”

He suggested that South Central Ambulance Service might pull out of future contracts because of a lack of leadership in Sussex. Mr Palmer called on Sussex health chiefs to offer a five-year patient transport contract to South Central Ambulance Service.

The failure of Medi 1 is the latest in a long line of failed companies involved in Sussex’s non-emergency PTS. During the time Coperforma had the contract, three private ambulance companies who were sub-contracted to do the work went bust – Docklands, VM Langfords and Thames Ambulance.

A Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups spokeswoman said Sussex CCGs were “currently exploring procurement options” in relation to patient transport services.

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