Regulators have said they are “pausing” the planned takeover of Liverpool’s community services after the Care Quality Commission raised concerns about the preferred provider.

Bridgewater Community Healthcare Trust was rated requires improvement by the CQC yesterday, as it prepares to take on a £77m contract for the troubled community services in Liverpool.

Bridgewater was selected as preferred provider of the contract in November, amid concerns over the funding envelope being offered by Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group.

The services are currently run by Liverpool Community Health Trust, which is being disbanded after serious care and governance failings were exposed.

A spokesman for NHS Improvement, which is overseeing the transaction, said: “Following issues raised in relation to the recent CQC report about Bridgewater Community Healthcare Trust, we believe it is appropriate to take the time to perform additional evaluation of plans to transfer services to the trust from Liverpool Community Health Trust, in order to assure ourselves that the proposals remain appropriate.

“We are therefore temporarily pausing all work on the transfer of services to Bridgewater to undertake detailed assurance work alongside the trust in line with the NHS Improvement transaction guidance.”

The decision to award the contract to Bridgewater has been heavily criticised by West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper.

Mersey Care Foundation Trust, which was a rival bidder for the services, has previously been rated good by the CQC, but HSJ understands the trust did not think it was possible to run the services safely with the funding being offered.

In its inspection report for Bridgewater, the CQC raised concerns about incident reporting and learning from incidents; a lack of safeguarding training; and the standard of record keeping and IT systems.

Bridgewater chief executive Colin Scales said: “We welcome work by NHS Improvement to further demonstrate the progress we have made as a specialist NHS community organisation delivering community based care. We are an open and transparent organisation and our draft CQC report was known and shared during the transaction process.

“We, and our partners Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool GP Provider Organisation, all share the same ambition as people in Liverpool: to ensure that they have the very best in community healthcare services, provided by the NHS by locally employed people. We are happy to work with NHSI during this pause in order to provide the necessary assurance to continue to meet that ambition.”