Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s ‘Requires Improvement’ inspection rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has prompted an angry response from West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper given the report’s delayed publication and Bridgewater’s preferred bidder status for Liverpool community health services.

Rosie Cooper MP had brought to light the revelations about a bullying culture under the former management of Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust. A culture that resulted in patient and staff harm being caused, as detailed in the ‘Capsticks Report’ and which is currently the subject of an independent review by Dr Bill Kirkup, who led the inquiry into Morecambe Bay.

This led to NHS Improvement / Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) breaking up Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust with the individual contracts being put out to tender with Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust being one of the bidders.

Over a period of several months, MP Rosie Cooper has publicly raised financial and service quality concerns as to Bridgewater Community Healthcare’s suitability to take on Liverpool community health services in the circumstances of previous failures.

In July 2016 Rosie Cooper MP called on the Care Quality Commission to publish their inspection report into Bridgewater Community Healthcare ahead of any decision by Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Improvement on awarding the multi-million pound contract for Liverpool community health services.

In responding to the inspection reports publication, MP Rosie Cooper said:

“We now know why Bridgewater Community Healthcare tried to delay the publication of this report.

“In the key areas of safety, leadership and the effectiveness of patient care the Care Quality Commission finds that Bridgewater Community Healthcare is not delivering to the required standards and requires improvement.

“It is quite staggering that despite today’s independent verdict on Bridgewater Community Healthcare, NHS Improvement and Liverpool CCG could even contemplate in the face of this evidence to hand Bridgewater Community Healthcare, a seriously underfunded contract to run Liverpool’s community health services in July.

“NHS rules are clear, to take over other trusts and services you must have a ‘good’ CQC rating. If this were to go ahead, with Bridgewater Community Healthcare requiring improvement, it would show that Liverpool CCG and NHS Improvement are willing to breach their own rules, sacrifice quality and are abandoning their duty of care to patients, staff and Liverpool residents.

“I have called on the Secretary of State to review this sorry state of affairs and intervene to uphold NHS rules.

“If NHS Improvement and Liverpool CCG were attempting to restore confidence in Liverpool community health services in contracting a new provider following the previous failures they have abjectly fallen well short.

“Many aspects of this report echo dangerous practises with medicine management, staff shortages, and financial pressures- all similar to the root failures under the previous management at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, which were revealed in 2014.

“What this report tells us is Bridgewater Community Healthcare need to improve the services they have currently got. NHS commissioners then want to add extra community health services on top of services which have been poorly managed and underfunded and are only now back on the road to recovery.

“Then add to this mix the new alliance agreement, which will see social care services included in a new model of care with community health services provided by Bridgewater Community Healthcare, Liverpool City Council and Liverpool GP Provider Organisation.

“Publication of Bridgewater Community Healthcare inspection rating raises some very serious questions about the entire transaction process in Liverpool.

“What the Care Quality Commission’s report shows is that the decision by NHS Improvement and Liverpool CCG to give Bridgewater Community Healthcare the keys to NHS community services in Liverpool is patient safety comes a distant third to commissioner’s interest’s and financial savings.”

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