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Hospital’s urgent care centre run by private company is ‘inadequate’

Care Quality Commission orders ‘special measures’ after inspection

22 December, 2017 — By Tom Foot

A MAJOR unit in one of London’s busiest hospitals that was taken over by a private company has been rated “inadequate”.

The Urgent Care Centre at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington has been given the worst possible rating by the Care Quality Commission.

The centre, where patients who attend A&E but are not judged to be emergencies are treated by doctors, is run by Vocare Ltd.

The CQC put the unit in “special measures” following an inspection in July that found the company was “failing” accurately to record and review X-rays, leading to patients being discharged with “missed fractures”.

There was a “backlog” of X-ray reviews that had not taken place.

In August a follow-up inspection found that some “breaches” had been addressed but decided the “current overall inadequate rating will remain”.

Last month the CQC filed another report that one week before its latest inspection in October its officers were told that the centre’s clinical director had “resigned with immediate effect and the service operational manager had resigned and would not be available on the day of the inspection”.

The report added: “The lead nurse position had been vacant since April 2017.”

The UCC service was privatised in 2016 and Vocare won a contract following a tender. The company, based in the north-east of England, runs other UCCs and GP out-of-hours services with an estimated 4.5million patients on its books.

Labour councillors are calling for the firm to be stripped of its contract and the contract to be returned to the NHS.

Vocare announced in October that the board of “Totally plc”, another provider of a range of out-of-hospital services, had approved a proposal to acquire Vocare Ltd in an £11million deal.

According to accounts Vocare’s revenue grew from £32.4million at the end of March 2015 to around £76.8million in 2017.

The company is now a fully owned subsidiary of Totally.

The move shows how NHS services can be passed from provider to provider after they have been privatised.

In a statement last month Dr Michael Harrison, clinical director of Vocare, said: “We are taking the report very seriously.

“The assessment visit took place in July so we have had over 10 weeks to put in place a clear plan of action designed to address the CQC’s concerns. In most cases new systems, processes and procedures have already been introduced with the final measures imminent.”

An Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust spokeswoman said: “We’re disappointed the centre has had to be placed in special measures.

“We will continue to work with all partners involved in delivering the urgent care service at St Mary’s to help them address these urgent concerns.”


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