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Trust's bid to run disability services 200 miles away damaged risk rating

An NHS learning disability trust’s unsuccessful bid to take over the running of a similar service nearly 200 miles away led to its financial risk rating with Monitor deteriorating.

Calderstones Partnership Foundation Trust, based in Clitheroe, Lancashire, was one of the three short-listed bidders to take over Oxfordshire Learning Disability Services Trust.

The £56m-turnover trust confirmed to HSJ the bid had cost it £200,000 but said the organisation had always planned to record a financial risk rating of 4, the second best, with Monitor this financial year.

Minutes of the Department of Health’s Foundation Trust Financing Facility meeting in February, released to HSJ under the Freedom of Information Act, said: “Although still recording an FRR of five on the Monitor website, Calderstones has dropped to a four at the end of quarter 3 as a result of costs associated with the Oxford Learning Disability Services Trust bid.”

Foundation trusts must assess their financial risk rating according to Monitor standards, giving them a risk rating of 1 to 5, with one the riskiest and five the least risky.

In a statement about the bid, Calderstones said: “Whilst the outcome of the bid process is disappointing for us it has helped us to refine our approach to business generation and given us the opportunity to enhance our strengths and put in place the foundations for future opportunities.”

The process for taking over Oxfordshire Learning Disability Services Trust was run by NHS South of England and saw 13 initial bidders.

Calderstones made it to the final three, along with Hertfordshire Partnership and Southern Health foundation trusts, both of which run mental health and learning disability services.

Southern Health was announced as the winner of the process earlier this month.

The £315m-turnover foundation employs 8,000 people compared to the £40m-turnover Oxfordshire trust, which employs 1,200 staff.

Oxfordshire had initially considered becoming a social enterprise but decided along with the Department of Health and South Central Strategic Health Authority, now part of NHS South of England, that this would not be viable.

Calderstones’ bid is thought to be the most geographically ambitious attempt to run services in another part of the country.

In September 2010 Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust, based on the south London/Surrey border, was shortlisted to take over the running of South East Essex Primary Care Trust’s provider arm.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Aaah the benefits of the competition culture.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • So if one Trust spends £200k on bidding for a service they didn't win... how much did the other Trust spend?

    Loving the way competition is going to drive down costs and improve Quality.

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