The now defunct Improvement Foundation blamed its financial woes partly on pressures on primary care trusts to prepare for a second wave of swine flu, a letter seen by HSJ reveals.

The letter to staff was sent by chief executive Ruth Kennedy in October last year, three months before it ceased trading.

It’s very sad the organisation is no longer in operation. It was doing an excellent job with care homes. It will have an impact in about 12 months when we will see growing rates of C difficile in the community

Announcing some redundancies would be inevitable, the letter explained. This was due to the recession and “some contraction of existing business”.

This was compounded by “the essential Department of Health strategy on swine flu with its consequential requirement on PCTs to redirect significant levels of resource to prepare for the expected escalation in the incidence of this virus later this year and in early 2010”.

The letter says: “I want to close by reassuring you that the directors and I are wholly committed to the company and believe it to have an excellent future in both the medium and longer term.”

Around 22 people were later made redundant from regional offices, following a 30 day consultation. The remaining 50 employees lost their jobs before the company closed down at the beginning of this month.

But HSJ has discovered the training firm was planning to expand its business just days before it ceased trading.

MRSA Action UK chair Derek Butler says he was approached by an Improvement Foundation director on 29 January - a week after its auditors had resigned - about the possibility of paying for more work.

The charity was being commissioned by the Improvement Foundation to deliver presentations and workshops aimed at reducing infections in care homes. Mr Butler said the company was also considering rolling its infection control work out to GP practices.

He said: “It’s very sad the organisation is no longer in operation. It was doing an excellent job with care homes. It will have an impact in about 12 months when we will see growing rates of C difficile in the community.”

The foundation also carried out training for NHS managers in areas such as lean methodology, commissioning and tackling falls among the elderly.

As revealed last week, some PCTs are thought to be owed money for courses paid for upfront but not fully delivered. A Department of Health spokeswoman said information was not held centrally on the amounts owed to PCTs or the number of organisations holding contracts with the Improvement Foundation. No money was owed to the DH, she said.