Private provider Care UK has accused NHS commissioners in north east London of breaking rules around price competition.

  • Care UK claims CCGs did not follow pricing and competition rules when awarding North East London Treatment Centre contract to NHS trust
  • Company says the commissioners placed “too much weight” on price and not enough on quality
  • CCGs remain “confident” in their decision and that they broke no rules

The complaint follows the clinical commissioning groups awarding a contract for elective care for which it is the incumbent provider.

Monitor is investigating the decision by Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest CCGs to award the contract to provide elective care services at the North East London Treatment Centre to a local NHS trust, following a complaint by Care UK.

The company said commissioners broke competition rules when they offered the contract to Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust at prices lower than those agreed in the national tariff.

It said the use of price competition to achieve a price for services below the national price was a risk to the quality and safety of those services, according to a statement of issues published by Monitor.

The regulator is investigating whether the CCGs complied with rules governing the use of locally determined prices, in particular whether the use of local payment approaches was in the best interest of patients.

Care UK said the three groups placed too much emphasis on price and not enough on care quality when evaluating the providers’ bids.

It added that the commissioners were “not justified” in scoring it lower than the winning bidder on certain criteria. It said this decision was a breach of the procurement, patient choice and competition regulations contained in the Health Act 2012.

The company also had concerns about the way the trust is funded. In special measures, it is currently struggling with a £35.9m deficit.

The CCGs reiterated that while they were disappointed by the decision to launch the investigation, they would cooperate fully with Monitor.

They said: “The CCGs remain confident that our arrangements to select a provider of these services were in the best interests of patients, in accordance with the NHS rules on procurement, choice and competition.”