Redundancies 'anticipated' as NHS contractor folds under failed finances

CNCS provided 24-hour primary care at Mansfield's main hospital, which will now be taken over by a 'caretaker service'.
CNCS provided 24-hour primary care at Mansfield's main hospital, which will now be taken over by a 'caretaker service'.

Administrators for the failed healthcare firm, Central Nottinghamshire Clinical Services, have said a number of staff at the NHS contractor may be made redundant.

The major contractor at Mansfield's main hospital, King's Mill in Sutton-in-Ashfield, has filed for administration and abandoned all its operations at the hospital due to ‘financial pressures’.

The multi-million pound partner to the NHS revealed on Friday, May 13 it was be ceasing services, including 24-hour urgent GP services at the hospital, and numerous other contracts around Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Chris Stirland, joint administrator and partner at FRP Advisory, said: “Prior to administration CNCS had faced acute financial pressure and the company worked with care commissioners to ensure strong alternative providers were in place to provide a continuity of service for the public, with access to care for patients at the heart of that process. We shall consult with the company’s remaining staff as we seek to realise assets in the interest of creditors.”

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CNCS operated with around 190 sessional GPs and 151 healthcare workers ranging from primary care doctors, nurses and care home support staff, including over 70 employees at King’s Mill. The vast majority workers have been taken over by the new providers following the transfer of CNCS’s 13 public contracts. “It is anticipated that the remaining staff based at its Mansfield headquarters will be made redundant,” added the administrators.

The social enterprise, which started operations a decade ago, provided out-of-hours GP services, urgent care and other primary services alongside the A&E department as well as carer support services and an urgent care home team.

NHS Mansfield & Ashfield CCG said they were informed the contractor ‘can no longer continue to provide the local health services’ and were re-assuring patients that urgent care services were still in safe hands.

A spokesman said: “CNCS has notified commissioners that they can no longer continue to provide the local health services they delivered in parts of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.

“CNCS has experienced a number of financial and quality challenges over the last year. Patients who need to access care should not see any change in the availability of services.

Dr Amanda Sullivan, chief officer for NHS Mansfield and Ashfield CCG, who manage the contract with CNCS said: “We appreciate the concern this has caused to staff and some patients but we have taken swift and decisive action.

“We wish to reassure staff, contractors and stakeholders that the CCGs have put in place alternative arrangements with experienced providers to ensure that those services remain accessible to the public as they do now.”

The controversial not-for-profit company is a major partner of King’s Mill hospital, and was at the centre of national criticism when the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the company’s primary care services in Kirkby as ‘inadequate’, with reports of one GP on call for a million patients.

Portfolio holder for Health & Wellbeing at Ashfield District Council Jim Aspinall said: “I had previously expressed my concerns about this company to the CCG, so for me this is not unexpected.

“The CCG assure me those services will not suffer, I will be asking questions at our meeting on Monday with the CCG, about continuity of service and the employment status of the staff involved.”

And as the hospital battles to minimise the affect on patients, junior doctor Chris Episkopos warns that although the not-for-profit company only provides a portion of the hospital’s service the crisis the Trust now faces may have an impact on other emergency care departments.

He said: “My impression is that the people working at PC24 do a huge amount to prevent hospital admissions and provide care to vulnerable people in the community.

“The A&E is already close to breaking point, and we barely have enough beds to admit everyone who needs inpatient care.

“I just don’t see a way in which you can provide a service like that within a shoestring budget without cutting corners.”

The firm, a social enterprise formed just over a decade ago.

PC24’s out-of-hours urgent care services at King’s Mill Hospital are being transferred to ‘caretaker provider’ Nottingham Emergency Medical Services.

A spokesperson for CNCS said in a statement: “CNCS is working with its advisors and commissioners to ensure that service continuity will be maintained through the transfer of service delivery to other experienced care taker providers.”

A partner of CNCS who provides care services at home said their concern was that numerous outpatients would be left without services.

Scott Marsh, Chief Executive of Respectful Care, which provides some agency staffing for the Rapid Intervention Team and Pathways, both organizations run by CNCS, said: “We just found out with no notice that our partnership with CNCS has just gone into administration today.

“We’ve had a couple of staff working in their organisation for the last six months on various areas of the business, delivering care to vulnerable adults and working with their emergency care team.”

“I’m worried about the standard of care as they’re leaving vulnerable adults on their own. The Health & Social Care industry in Mansfield & Ashfield has worked tirelessly to improve all the services it’s provides. I hope the public can see that there are passionate companies out there who want to make Mansfield & Ashfield a better and safer place.

“We’ve now got to cut our ties with the company after we’ve made connections with them and we’ve got to break away our services now. It’s going to leave vulnerable adults alone today and that’s not acceptable”.

“It’s been very badly mismanaged and the board at CNCS should be ashamed,” he added. “Last year they were a multi-million pound business and this year the administrators have been called in.”

The caretaker providers are:

- For out of hours urgent care services at PC24 at King’s Mill Hospital and the out of hours GP services at Newark Hospital - NEMS (Nottingham Emergency Medical Services)

- Care Home support services in Nottinghamshire – Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

- Out of hours services in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland as well as the Loughborough Urgent Care Centre – Derbyshire Health United

Telephone numbers previously used to access out of hours services remain unchanged.