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Restructuring

Ever since its devolution deal kicked in, Greater Manchester has been an enthusiastic restructurer of organisations.

Community services in Trafford, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham are now set for a major shake-up, with hundreds of staff expected to transfer to new providers over the next couple of years.

The current configuration - with services in the four boroughs provided by Pennine Care Foundation Trust - doesn’t really fit with the region’s favoured integration model, while PCFT says it wants to focus on its core mental health services.

The contracts across the boroughs are worth around 40 per cent of the trust’s turnover (£97m per year), which would suggest that almost 2,000 staff could end up being transferred to other organisations.

The processes will differ slightly in each of the boroughs, but several senior sources in the region suggest the contracts are likely to end up with the big acute providers, in line with the structures already established in Salford and the city of Manchester.

For Bury, Rochdale and Oldham, this would mean staff being transferred into the Northern Care Alliance, the organisation set to be created through Salford Royal’s acquisition of Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust.

Under this model, the staff in each borough would, in theory at least, work for a “local care organisation” which includes the acute hospital.

For Trafford, which under the previous CCG leadership was more interested in primary care integration, this would mean the contract going to Manchester University FT (which runs Trafford General Hospital).

Leaders in Manchester have been at pains to try and emphasise the independence of their LCO, but it still has to be legally part of the acute trust for now.

The four boroughs will still have to jump through the required procurement hoops, which has already started in Trafford. As I understand it, the other three could put interim measures in place with PCFT and the Northern Care Alliance from April, while they work on designing their own LCO contract.

When its ready commissioners would have to notify Virgin Care et al of their intention to award their LCO contract, and invite them to submit a bid.

But as in the city of Manchester, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are designed in a way that makes the acute provider the only feasible bidder.

Backtracking

There was an interesting development on the leadership front last month, as Trafford CCG backtracked on its shared leadership model with the local authority.

Council chief executive Theresa Grant was appointed to the dual role in April, but resigned in July after Labour took control of the council.

The CCG and council have since been led separately on an interim basis, but have now reverted to having separate leaders.

This appears to be partly in response to the various challenges faced by the CCG, including its financial performance and an independent review currently examining why a newly built health centre remains largely empty.

The identity of the new accountable officer, who starts in January, also raised a few eyebrows.

Martyn Pritchard previously worked for Capita for five years between 2011 and 2016, including as stakeholder director within the firm’s widely criticised primary care support services.

Before working for Capita he was chief executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Trust and Calderdale Primary Care Trust.

Red faced

Various reviews and investigations are continuing at Mersey Care FT to establish how staff were tricked into paying a fake invoice worth more than £900,000.

There are no suspicions of internal involvement from trust or supplier staff, so however sophisticated the fraudsters were, the incident has been pretty embarrassing.

Mersey Care is only insured for losses of up to £250,000, so faces a rather large one-off hit to its financial performance in 2018-19.

The trust’s November board papers said finance staff had followed the correct procedure, but “interpretation of this procedure was varied and needed to be more robust”. It added that procedures were “now more explicit and detailed training had been delivered to staff”.