Health commissioners under investigation over ‘pricing arrangements’ after surgery centre brought back into NHS hands

Matthew Hopkins, Chief Executive of Queen’s and King George hospitals

Matthew Hopkins, Chief Executive of Queens and King George hospitals - Credit: Archant

Health commissioners in Havering are being investigated by a government watchdog over “pricing arrangements” involving elective care services.

Yesterday (Thursday), Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) – which runs Queen’s Hospital in Romford – announced it had been chosen as the clinical commissioning groups’ (CCGs’) preferred bidder to run the elective care centre at King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, following a “competitive tender process”.

But the current operators of the unit, Care UK Clinical Services Ltd, lodged a complaint with Monitor, the health service regulator, over the way in which the selection process was carried out.

A statement from Monitor said: “Monitor has decided to investigate the commissioning of elective care services in North East London by Barking and Dagenham Clinical Commissioning Group, Havering Clinical Commissioning Group, Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group and Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (together the CCGs) and the proposed pricing arrangements for those services.

“This follows a complaint by Care UK Clinical Services Limited that the process carried out by the CCGs to select Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust to provide elective care services from the North East London Treatment Centre in Ilford was not consistent with the CCGs’ regulatory obligations and that the national tariff was not complied with when agreeing prices for those services.

“This case raises important questions about how the CCGs’ actions in commissioning the elective care services were in the interests of patients.”

Chief executive of BHRUT Matthew Hopkins said: “We put in a high quality bid that was focussed on continuing to improve care and reduce waiting times for our patients.

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“Around 15,000 patients a year will be able to have routine, low-risk surgery at the centre, without needing an overnight stay in hospital.

“We are more than happy to fully support the investigation and will provide commissioners and Monitor with any information they need.”

Mr Hopkins added: “Being named as preferred bidder shows that commissioners have real confidence in the quality of our services and the care that we provide to our patients.

“It’s great news for the communities of North East London – some of the most deprived in the country - and for the health economy.

“Importantly, it also shows real commitment to the future of King George Hospital.”

Monitor said it would publish a statement in the next few weeks setting out the issues which will be examined.

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting welcomed the news BHRUT had been chosen to run the centre.

The Labour MP said: “Bringing the elective care centre back into the NHS from the private sector should improve quality and access to care for patients and having the centre based at King George Hospital makes the longer term future of the hospital more secure.

“This is also an important sign of confidence in the ongoing improvements at our local trust and a testament to the hard work of the leadership and staff in our local NHS.”