• Firm providing NHS dermatology services put into liquidation by directors
  • Hospitals, small practices and commissioners could lose £4m
  • Firm’s parent company has rebranded and continues to trade, liquidators’ report said 
  • Company claimed it had “saved the NHS in excess of £15m” over lifetime of contract

NHS hospitals, GP practices and commissioners could lose £4m after a firm providing NHS dermatology services was put into liquidation, according to documents obtained by HSJ

A report by liquidators also set out how Concordia Specialist Care Services’ “physical assets and NHS contracts” have been “sold” to a “connected company” – which continues to trade under a new name, Omnes Healthcare Ltd. 

Dozens of sole practitioners and GP surgeries, hospitals, clinical commissioning groups and the NHS Business Services Authority are among unsecured creditors owed a total of £4.3m by the company, judged “insolvent” by its liquidators.

The administrators’ report said it was “unlikely that a dividend will be paid to unsecured creditors”. This was underlined by a balance sheet within the report which said there were “0” pounds worth of “total assets available for unsecured creditors”.

Concordia Specialist Care Services terminated its contract to provide services in Essex two months early without giving commissioners a formal reason, leaving local NHS services to pick up the work, HSJ exclusively revealed last month (See box: Troubles followed by collapse). 

HSJ has also obtained a letter sent by consultancy firm Leonard Curtis to creditors this month which confirmed the directors had “commenced liquidation proceedings” and that the firm had been appointed to oversee the liquidation.

A report by Leonard Curtis, sent alongside the letter, said NHS BSA was owed £1.7m, while East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust was owed £809,700. It also listed tens of sole traders and small practices which are owed up to several thousand pounds, as among the unsecured creditors (See table: Affected organisations).

Affected organisationAmount (£)
NHS Business Services Authority 1.7m
Colchester Hospital (now part of East Suffolk and North Essex FT) 809,707
North East Essex CCG 670,629
North Middlesex University Hospital Trust 340,066
Merton CCG 56,615
Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust 19,655
Central Manchester University (now part of Manchester University FT) 14,671
Frimely Health FT 5,418
Hounslow CCG 2,000
Care Quality Commission 1,867
Royal Wolverhampton Trust 556
Hillingdon Hospitals FT 177
Small practices and sole traders total 729,238
Total 4.3m

The report added: “On 31 March 2019, the physical assets and the NHS contracts of the company were sold to Omnes Healthcare Ltd (formerly Concordia Ambulatory Care Services Limited) (“OHL”), a connected company by virtue of Mr Toby Hurd and Mr Adam Hurd being common directors and it being a subsidiary within the group.

“As part of the sales, the majority of the company’s employees were transferred to OHL in accordance with Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), with the remaining employees being transferred to the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group.”

Documents on Companies House said the company’s name changed from Concordia Ambulatory Care Services Limited to Omnes Healthcare Ltd on 15 May 2019.

One creditor, who wished to remain anonymous, told HSJ: “Many of the clinicians like myself have been working for Concordia in our evenings and weekends to help NHS patients in areas where there is a shortage of dermatologists and waiting lists are very long.

“Colleagues have worked in good faith for a company with multiple contracts within the NHS. We have been left tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket with little or no prospect of being paid.”

North East Essex CCG, which is owed £670,629, said it had entered “dispute resolution” to try and claw back the money it is owed.

It said in a statement it was “bound by [the] terms” of the dispute resolution process and that it would be “wholly inappropriate for the CCG to go outside this agreement and share details of the outcome”.

It added: “As NEE CCG has an obligation to secure the best outcomes for its population it will be pursuing its right to reclaim monies owed.”

Background: Troubles followed by collapse in Essex

Concordia Specialist Care Services said it would “no longer be able to provide [its dermatology] service” to 24,000 Essex residents last month.

Commissioners told HSJ they were given no formal reason for the decision, and two senior local sources said the company gave just five days’ notice of the move.

The contract to provide secondary care support services to Colchester Hospital for inpatient and non-elective patients went live in July 2017. The contract was originally due to run for five years but the CCG announced in October it was being cut to two years and ending in July 2019.

The move followed a CCG inspection of the services provided in Fryatt Hospital, Dovercourt. This found “standards of hygiene and cleanliness in a number of areas did not comply with national standards, medication was out of date, specimens were inappropriately stored in a medication fridge and Concordia staff were unaware of how to access organisational policies”, according to a report by the Daily Gazette which was confirmed by the CCG to HSJ.

The company told local media at the time the cancellation of the contract was a “no-fault termination… not connected to any performance matters”.

However, North East Essex CCG told HSJ that it had now raised fresh concerns with the Care Quality Commission following Concordia’s decision to pull out of the contract.

The company was presented with the details obtained by HSJ and invited to comment further.

A company statement said: “In the same way that NEE [CCG] is bound by contractual limitations we are unable to reply as comprehensively as we would like to, but we would wish to point out in [sic] your story has fundamental inaccuracies in the way that it portrays the circumstances relating to North East Essex and the subsequent formal administrative processes and their impact.”

The company declined to say what it believed the “inaccuracies” were.

The statement continued: “We would also wish to highlight that over the course of the contract with North East Essex CCG the net savings to the commissioner are estimated to be in excess of £3m for the services provided.

“Prior to this, working for Colchester hospital we estimate we saved them in excess of £2m, as well as having a dramatic beneficial impact upon patient services – when Concordia took over the service the average length of the waiting lists were substantial with only 69.7 per cent [referral to treatment] compliance, but within six months of Concordia taking over the service the backlog had been resolved and RTT compliance was at 96.69 per cent.

“The sale of the NHS contracts and transfer of staff to Omnes Healthcare Ltd ensured that clinical services were protected for patients. The company is dedicated to delivering high quality services that support the NHS; services that provide an [sic] good care to patients with short waiting periods and that are also cost effective for the NHS.

“Over the life of the company it is estimated that it saved the NHS in excess of £15m.”

ESNFT declined to comment.

NHS BSA and Leonard Curtis had not commented as HSJ went to press.