NHS England knows nothing of Care UK contracts for Todmorden and Halifax walk in health centres

NHS England says it does not have information about the Care UK contracts for Todmorden and Halifax Walk In Health Centres.

When I put in a Freedom of Information request to Calderdale CCG last July, they passed much of it on to NHS England. This was because Calderdale CCG had inherited the Care UK contracts from the Calderdale Primary Care Trust but, unaccountably, didn’t have information about them and thought that NHS England would know.

NHS England has now replied that they too know nothing about the Care UK Contracts for the Tod and Halifax Walk in Health Centres, and has suggested that I contact the legacy team at the Department of Health.

Does the left hand know what the right hand’s doing?

However, in a written reply to questions from Calderdale NHS 38 Degrees  (a local organisation that campaigns against the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and its stealth privatisation of the NHS) Judith Salter, Calderdale CCG’s Corporate and Governance Manager, did come up with a small amount of information.

Ms Salter wrote that  the current cost of the Tod and Halifax walk in health centres is about £250K/year. And that Care UK, the original contractor for these walk in health centres in 2009, also won the re-procured contract from 2012.

Nobody knows, tiddly pom… but Private Member’s bill seeks to bring NHS stealth privatisation into the open

This lack of information, and therefore of accountability and transparency, bears out fears that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 has effectively put the NHS beyond democratic control and parliamentary sovereignty.

In an attempt to re-establish democratic control of the NHS, Easington MP Grahame Morris is introducing a private member’s bill to make sure that the award of NHS contracts to private healthcare companies is covered by the Freedom of Information Act.

The questions that Calderdale CCG handed on to NHS England, and that NHS England has been unable to answer, are:

1) What did the 2009 Care UK contract cost NHS Calderdale? What was the cost per patient per year for the Halifax and Todmorden GP-led Health Centres? How did this compare with per patient yearly payments for ordinary GP practices in Calderdale?

2. Has NHS Calderdale had to compensate Care UK for ending its 2009 contract early? If so, how much compensation has it had to pay Care UK? What has been the effect on the contract and its costs of the subsequent agreement to extend the Care UK contract beyond its agreed early termination in 2012, until October 2013?

3. What happened to the reprocurement of the contract, via the Calderdale PCT Equitable Access to Primary Medical Care tender Reference number 5J6/11/0003, start date Jan. 2, 2012, value £5,600,000, duration 5 yrs?

4. What was the reason for the delay in approving the re-procurement contract, which as far as I am aware, was advertised with a start date of January 2012?

5. Which provider was the re-procurement contract awarded to? Is this new provider still in place to run the two GP – led Health Centres under the re-procured contract, that I understand is now due to start in May 2014?

The NHS must be democratically accountable – that means telling us what’s going on

These questions might seem boring and nit picky – but they are about how public money is used for a vital public service – our NHS. This information should be readily and publicly available.

And Calderdale CCG should have it at its fingertips. If the body responsible for commissioning NHS services in Calderdale really doesn’t know what contracts it inherited from its predecessor -Calderdale Primary Care Trust – what on earth are they doing?

Even worse, if they don’t know where to get the information they don’t have, this suggests that the new NHS structure is totally impenetrable – even to the people who are supposed to be running it.

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