Bucks Urgent Care got £2m NHS contract without a tender process

Firm got £2m NHS contract without a tender process

The Minor Injuries and Illnesses Unit

Dr Linda Derrick

First published in News
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HEALTH chiefs have defended giving a £2 million contract for Wycombe’s new minor injuries unit to a private company without it going out to tender.

Officials have also disputed claims that two of the decision-makers had a ‘potential conflict of interest’ during the commissioning process.

The Minor Injuries and Illnesses Unit [MIIU] opened in October last year after the contract was awarded to a private firm called Bucks Urgent Care, which also runs the county’s GP-out-of-hours service.

It was decided ‘incumbent providers’ should be offered the chance to run the unit, so Bucks Urgent Care was asked to submit a joint proposal with Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Wycombe Hospital.

The private firm is the ‘prime contractor’, with the NHS trust providing nurses to staff the unit.

It appears tendering was not required as the Bucks Urgent Care had already gone through a competitive process to secure their GP out-of-hours contract in 2009.

But concerns have been raised by Dr Linda Derrick, a member of Wycombe Labour Party, who said: “It is not clear why this collaborative working was better than tendering for a new provider..."

Speaking in general terms she added: “It's obviously well worth a private sector company getting its foot in the door with one contract, even if it makes a loss, because there will then be other contracts available without the need to compete.”

Dr Derrick also claims two voting members in the commissioning process had a potential conflict of interest, due to their professional links to the owners of Bucks Urgent Care.

Louise Patten and Dr Annet Gamell are senior employees at the county’s two Clinical Commissioning Groups [CCGs] - the bodies set to take over health budgets.

The surgeries that make up Chiltern CCG, which covers south Buckinghamshire, hold shares in a private company called Chiltern Health Ltd, which is a joint owner of Bucks Urgent Care.

Similarly, many of the doctors whose surgeries make up Aylesbury Vale CCG hold shares in Vale Health Ltd – also a joint owner of Bucks Urgent Care.

But NHS Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire, which led the commissioning process, said Mrs Patten and Dr Gamell and "had no conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest".

A statement said Dr Gamell, of Chiltern CCG, was [and is] no longer a partner in a surgery and resigned her shareholding in Chiltern Health Ltd in June 2011 - before the commissioning process started.

Though she was one of eight voting members on the evaluation panel which decided the contract should be offered to BUC, it said she was not then involved in the contract negotiations and details of the deal.

The statement added: “In order to ensure there was no conflict of interest, none of the evaluation panel members were shareholders in any of the primary care organisations involved.

“The evaluation panel used a ranking system of one to five to determine whether the service model was ‘fit for purpose’ and that it would deliver the best service possible for local people.”

A separate statement regarding Mrs Patten [of Aylesbury Vale CCG] said: "She is not a GP and is not a shareholder in Bucks Urgent Care (BUC), the company that along with Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust – bid for the contract to provide the Minor Injuries and illness and Unit.”

NHS Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire - the county’s primary care trust - is set to be disbanded in April under the Government’s controversial reforms, with Chiltern CCG taking control of health budgets in the south of the county.

And further fears have been raised by Dr Derrick about how the MIIU contract will be fairly monitored by the CCG, as eight of the executive board have a financial interest in BUC through their Chiltern Health shareholdings.

When asked about this issue, health chiefs said it is covered in the CCG’s Constitution and supported by the NHS Bucks Code of Conduct and Accountability, while a new code for the CCG is in the process of being approved.

Comments (11)

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11:44am Thu 21 Feb 13

Stand up for England says...

"And further fears have been raised by Dr Derrick about how the MIIU contract will be fairly monitored by the CCG, as eight of the executive board have a financial interest in BUC through their Chiltern Health shareholdings".
.... this stinks and should be investigated further!! .. how can this possibly be in the hospital's and the public's best interests ??
"And further fears have been raised by Dr Derrick about how the MIIU contract will be fairly monitored by the CCG, as eight of the executive board have a financial interest in BUC through their Chiltern Health shareholdings". .... this stinks and should be investigated further!! .. how can this possibly be in the hospital's and the public's best interests ?? Stand up for England
  • Score: 5

11:56am Thu 21 Feb 13

sparky49 says...

The nasty party at it's inglorious best.
A bent decision (they will say it isn't), self interest from private companies.
The NHS is being slowly privatised, but will your N.I Contributions reduce to reflect less tax payers money being put in. Certainly not and almost certain to have an excuse for it.
Said it before and will say it again, continue to vote nasty and we will end up like U.S.A and only the strong will survive, to the rest it will be back to the Victorian poor house days
The nasty party at it's inglorious best. A bent decision (they will say it isn't), self interest from private companies. The NHS is being slowly privatised, but will your N.I Contributions reduce to reflect less tax payers money being put in. Certainly not and almost certain to have an excuse for it. Said it before and will say it again, continue to vote nasty and we will end up like U.S.A and only the strong will survive, to the rest it will be back to the Victorian poor house days sparky49
  • Score: 2

1:35pm Thu 21 Feb 13

wayneo says...

I'm not a fan of the EU by any means but the laws this and previous Government have signed us up to means that this value of tender would have to of been advertised to the EU and under OJEU rules. Seems to me that they've broken the law in my opinion. Why isn't the Scrutin and audit commissions not spotting this?
I'm not a fan of the EU by any means but the laws this and previous Government have signed us up to means that this value of tender would have to of been advertised to the EU and under OJEU rules. Seems to me that they've broken the law in my opinion. Why isn't the Scrutin and audit commissions not spotting this? wayneo
  • Score: 5

2:13pm Thu 21 Feb 13

Darren Hayday says...

This is very true in regards to EU law and not seeming like good practice.

It looks very dodgy to me - there should be an inquest.
This is very true in regards to EU law and not seeming like good practice. It looks very dodgy to me - there should be an inquest. Darren Hayday
  • Score: 4

3:08pm Thu 21 Feb 13

ivor says...

For a large sum like £2m it's amazing that a full tender would not be needed?
~
I am not am expert in these matters and it seems there's nothing we can do ourselves but as public money is involved surely the matter could be reported to the police for a full investigation which could ultimately lead to the arrest and prosecution of anyone found to have acted improperly?
~
Have you read Ivor’s blog today? Click on the “Your say” then “Blogs” links at the top of this page.
For a large sum like £2m it's amazing that a full tender would not be needed? ~ I am not am expert in these matters and it seems there's nothing we can do ourselves but as public money is involved surely the matter could be reported to the police for a full investigation which could ultimately lead to the arrest and prosecution of anyone found to have acted improperly? ~ Have you read Ivor’s blog today? Click on the “Your say” then “Blogs” links at the top of this page. ivor
  • Score: 1

4:20pm Sat 23 Feb 13

buser says...

ivor wrote:
For a large sum like £2m it's amazing that a full tender would not be needed?
~
I am not am expert in these matters and it seems there's nothing we can do ourselves but as public money is involved surely the matter could be reported to the police for a full investigation which could ultimately lead to the arrest and prosecution of anyone found to have acted improperly?
~
Have you read Ivor’s blog today? Click on the “Your say” then “Blogs” links at the top of this page.
Well perhaps, as a journalist, you could investigate and research this matter thoroughly and advise us all via a factual, informed and researched blog, omitting the usual waffle about 'your good self', on the most appropriate action in this case. . A challenge for you Ivor, which could help the community and highlight any actual wrong doing if there is any.
[quote][p][bold]ivor[/bold] wrote: For a large sum like £2m it's amazing that a full tender would not be needed? ~ I am not am expert in these matters and it seems there's nothing we can do ourselves but as public money is involved surely the matter could be reported to the police for a full investigation which could ultimately lead to the arrest and prosecution of anyone found to have acted improperly? ~ Have you read Ivor’s blog today? Click on the “Your say” then “Blogs” links at the top of this page.[/p][/quote]Well perhaps, as a journalist, you could investigate and research this matter thoroughly and advise us all via a factual, informed and researched blog, omitting the usual waffle about 'your good self', on the most appropriate action in this case. . A challenge for you Ivor, which could help the community and highlight any actual wrong doing if there is any. buser
  • Score: 1

10:58pm Sun 24 Feb 13

JohnB27 says...

This on-line edition of the BFP highlights that there was no tendering process prior to the award of a £2M contract to a private company, Bucks Urgent Care, for the “Minor Injury and Illness Unit” at High Wycombe Hospital which is the downgraded version of the previously demoted A&E Department. The article centres on the facts that there was no competition as the successful company had been awarded a contract some years ago and that there were conflicts of interests with members of the Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group.

I fail to understand how this situation arose as the Government has clearly stated that where such services can be provided by two or more providers and the creation of such services is not an extremely urgent one, then a new contract should only be awarded after proper competition by way of a Tender process {The NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) Regulations} 2013 5.1&2.

Is the public aware that eight Board members of the Bucks Urgent Care Company are shareholders in Chiltern Health (based at the Cressex Diagnostic centre!) and that Chiltern Health works, according to its website, in partnership with Bucks Hospitals and the Primary Care Trust . What a small world it is in the new NHS.
This on-line edition of the BFP highlights that there was no tendering process prior to the award of a £2M contract to a private company, Bucks Urgent Care, for the “Minor Injury and Illness Unit” at High Wycombe Hospital which is the downgraded version of the previously demoted A&E Department. The article centres on the facts that there was no competition as the successful company had been awarded a contract some years ago and that there were conflicts of interests with members of the Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group. I fail to understand how this situation arose as the Government has clearly stated that where such services can be provided by two or more providers and the creation of such services is not an extremely urgent one, then a new contract should only be awarded after proper competition by way of a Tender process {The NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) Regulations} 2013 5.1&2. Is the public aware that eight Board members of the Bucks Urgent Care Company are shareholders in Chiltern Health (based at the Cressex Diagnostic centre!) and that Chiltern Health works, according to its website, in partnership with Bucks Hospitals and the Primary Care Trust . What a small world it is in the new NHS. JohnB27
  • Score: 1

9:54am Fri 1 Mar 13

QualityCare4all says...

http://www.chilternh
ealth.co.uk/ & http://www.valehealt
h.co.uk/index.aspx

Details of these locally owned and managed companies that provide services for you.

Do you want to spend large amounts of money £100,000 or more of NHS funds on tendering?

Do you want Virgin Health to provide these services or your local GPs?

Which will deliver the best health care for you? We need to see the outcomes measured and that will tell if the services should have been put out to tender.
http://www.chilternh ealth.co.uk/ & http://www.valehealt h.co.uk/index.aspx Details of these locally owned and managed companies that provide services for you. Do you want to spend large amounts of money £100,000 or more of NHS funds on tendering? Do you want Virgin Health to provide these services or your local GPs? Which will deliver the best health care for you? We need to see the outcomes measured and that will tell if the services should have been put out to tender. QualityCare4all
  • Score: 1

9:54am Sun 3 Mar 13

rjpastaw says...

QualityCare4all wrote:
http://www.chilternh

ealth.co.uk/ & http://www.valehealt

h.co.uk/index.aspx

Details of these locally owned and managed companies that provide services for you.

Do you want to spend large amounts of money £100,000 or more of NHS funds on tendering?

Do you want Virgin Health to provide these services or your local GPs?

Which will deliver the best health care for you? We need to see the outcomes measured and that will tell if the services should have been put out to tender.
Patten & Arnell should not have been allowed to take any part in this process -
they are tainted through their associations.
It appears increasing likely that Bucks Healthcare is descending into an NHS version of "Rotten Boroughs"
The days of "trust me - I'm a doctor" have thankfully long disappeared - Shipman revealed the absolute falsehood of that piece of medical hubris.
Why is it assumed that GPs are the best option for running health care provision?
[quote][p][bold]QualityCare4all[/bold] wrote: http://www.chilternh ealth.co.uk/ & http://www.valehealt h.co.uk/index.aspx Details of these locally owned and managed companies that provide services for you. Do you want to spend large amounts of money £100,000 or more of NHS funds on tendering? Do you want Virgin Health to provide these services or your local GPs? Which will deliver the best health care for you? We need to see the outcomes measured and that will tell if the services should have been put out to tender.[/p][/quote]Patten & Arnell should not have been allowed to take any part in this process - they are tainted through their associations. It appears increasing likely that Bucks Healthcare is descending into an NHS version of "Rotten Boroughs" The days of "trust me - I'm a doctor" have thankfully long disappeared - Shipman revealed the absolute falsehood of that piece of medical hubris. Why is it assumed that GPs are the best option for running health care provision? rjpastaw
  • Score: 1

11:30am Sun 3 Mar 13

JohnB27 says...

So "QualityCare4all" asks if we want to spend large amounts of money on tendering! NO. We'd far rather have the NHS working for the good of patients, not providing huge payments to private business for doing that which the NHS was set out to do in the first place. Suggesting that small local business is a better bank than a large business misses the point entirely.
So "QualityCare4all" asks if we want to spend large amounts of money on tendering! NO. We'd far rather have the NHS working for the good of patients, not providing huge payments to private business for doing that which the NHS was set out to do in the first place. Suggesting that small local business is a better bank than a large business misses the point entirely. JohnB27
  • Score: 1

6:38pm Sun 3 Mar 13

QualityCare4all says...

rjpastaw asks: "Why is it assumed that GPs are the best option for running health care provision?"

I have no idea why the Government (Con and Lib Dems) think its a good idea! I reckon the GPs are too busy seeing patients and it will be managers (in Oxford?) who do the day to day managing of contracts anyway, just like the old days of the PCT.

Most GPs think its a crazy idea. Most Drs & nurses think the reforms are a bad thing.

JohnB27: So who do you and the rest of the public in Bucks want to provide the 'urgent care /unscheduled care service'? Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS TRust or local GPs or a large national/internation
al private company?

I dont know because I have not seen any measures of quality nor do I know what standards are expected. There should be some transparency and we should be told what stardards are included in the contracts and how they are monitored. How well is Bucks Urgent Care doing?

What standards of care do the residents of Bucks expect from the provider of that service?
.
rjpastaw asks: "Why is it assumed that GPs are the best option for running health care provision?" I have no idea why the Government (Con and Lib Dems) think its a good idea! I reckon the GPs are too busy seeing patients and it will be managers (in Oxford?) who do the day to day managing of contracts anyway, just like the old days of the PCT. Most GPs think its a crazy idea. Most Drs & nurses think the reforms are a bad thing. JohnB27: So who do you and the rest of the public in Bucks want to provide the 'urgent care /unscheduled care service'? Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS TRust or local GPs or a large national/internation al private company? I dont know because I have not seen any measures of quality nor do I know what standards are expected. There should be some transparency and we should be told what stardards are included in the contracts and how they are monitored. How well is Bucks Urgent Care doing? What standards of care do the residents of Bucks expect from the provider of that service? . QualityCare4all
  • Score: 0

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