NHS watchdog signed off doomed £750m contract despite doubts

Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge has been put into special measures after the collapse of the contract [Image: Lifescenes/Alamy].

An NHS contract worth £750m that collapsed in December after just eight months was effectively signed off by the regulator and NHS England, despite questions about its viability.

The contract – the biggest in NHS history – was the first designed to bring together hospital, mental health services and community care for adults and older people in Cambridgeshire, introducing a single point of contact for patients.

Signed in November 2014 after a 15-month procurement process that cost more than £1m, it was strongly opposed by local campaigners and trade unionists after several private bidders expressed an interest. Opponents feared it would mean transferring thousands of staff into the private sector.

In the end, the contract went to an NHS partnership called UnitingCare. It launched in April last year, promising to cut emergency admissions to hospital, saving millions of pounds. But by early December, all the partners agreed it was not financially sustainable.

In papers submitted to Cambridgeshire county council’s health scrutiny committee, Monitor revealed it had such grave doubts about the project that it only gave it the go-ahead the day before the launch. There were 34 outstanding issues remaining to be negotiated, a hearing of the committee was told last week.

Source: NHS watchdog signed off doomed £750m contract despite doubts | Society | The Guardian

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2 thoughts on “NHS watchdog signed off doomed £750m contract despite doubts

  1. amnesiaclinic

    One of the comments on the article seems very pertinent. Budgets have been slashed so much estimates are doomed to fail. Privatization by the backdoor needlessly complicated just to confuse us.

  2. Dez

    What are these people doing making decisions of this magnitude without proper management? Oh, so they were the management…..As for involving Procurement in anything other than collating data, keeping score and ensuring fair play etc is disastrous. Strategy decisions, outside of bean counting, were never part of their DNA. Behind all these “good ideas” ,usually to save money and heads you will find vocal political “drivers” usually with very short sighted vision and little knowledge of the real landscape. Invariably these same drivers go underground fast when the proverbial hits the fan blaming everything on the others. One of the big issues with such projects is the fact that key figures who can see the wood for the trees are dragged along with the fervour of change, fail to say what is obvious for fear of being seen as party poopers, can find little quality time to input full time in the projects, and there are very few in these organisations man enough to make a decision commensurate with their positions and salaries especially if crossing other disciplines. Most decisions in the NHS, are nothing like commercial operations, and usually made by busy committees none of whom have the important time to devote to a quality decision.. Hopefully they can put the pieces back together again but the reality is they never have a plan B as that would be to negative for their promotion prospects. No doubt the drivers have been promoted leaving behind the usual carnage for someone else to clean up having peeded off a whole lot of faithful and loyal staff members.

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