InHealth, the UK’s leading private provider of diagnostic services, is challenging five CCGs in the High Court over the award of a five-year contract worth £15.6 million to another private company, Healthshare Ltd.

The High Court was told by InHealth that,  “The CCGs conducted the procurement – including the evaluation of tenders submitted by the claimant and Healthshare, unlawfully, in breach of its obligations [under procurement law].”

At the time of advertising the contract, InHealth was the incumbent provider. The five CCGS, Brent, Central London, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, and West London, decided to combine several separate contracts into a single larger contract. This was put out to tender in 2019 and in August 2019 Healthshare was awarded preferred provider status.

InHealth claimed the CCGs failed to act transparently and to treat the bidders equally as prescribed by the tendering rules.

InHealth is one of the leading diagnostics companies in England and has numerous contracts with NHS organisations around the country. The company has over 60 locations and employs around 2,200 staff.

Healthshare is a provider of integrated musculoskeletal (MSK) services to the NHS, and only entered the diagnostics market, through its acquisition of Global Diagnostics Ltd in 2018. In the company’s annual accounts, it states that it has 400 employees and services 250,000 NHS patients per year at over 86 clinical sites for 16 CCGs.


Bestcare goes bust leaving staff unpaid and a question mark over scans

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.


Clinical harm review underway after GP letters not sent

The NHS has launched a ‘clinical harm review’ to determine if any patients’ have come to harm following the revelation that over 28,000 letters were not sent to GPs, following a mistake by the IT company, Cerner.

A leaked memo, seen by The Guardian, details an IT failure that meant 28,563 pieces of confidential medical correspondence to GPs from the Royal Free London group of hospitals were not sent between June 2019 last year and last month. The memo was sent 7 February 2020 by Caroline Clarke, the chief executive of the Royal Free London group of hospitals, which include Barnet and Chase Farm.

The letters should have been sent by doctors at Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals in north London to GPs after consultations with 22,144 patients. The letters summarise what patients discussed with their consultants about their diagnosis and treatment. A “technical error” on updates to the system run by Cerner has been blamed for the problem.

Rachel Power, the chief executive of the Patients Association, told the Guardian that: “Patients who have attended these two hospitals will now be very worried about whether their care might have been compromised by this IT bungle…..we know that sharing information to join up patient care is a major weakness of the NHS, so it is very disappointing to see that this failure took over six months to be detected.”

Cerner UK, is the UK arm of the US company Cerner with headquarters in North Kansas City, Missouri. The company specialises in IT for healthcare companies. It operates in 35 countries worldwide. Cerner UK reported that in November 2018, the Royal Free Hospital group, including Chase Farm and Barnet hospitals, launched the Cerner Millennium® electronic health record (EHR) across their three hospital sites.

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