• Company stops providing dermatology services in Essex two months early
  • Concordia declined to comment on reason for surprise withdrawal as local NHS provider steps in
  • Company’s liabilities exceeded assets in most recent accounts from last year and auditor raised doubts over ability to continue trading
  • Company said it was “restructuring” and all its other services were “continuing sustainably and on a long-term basis”

A troubled private company has terminated a contract to provide dermatology services two months early and at very short notice, HSJ has learned.

An NHS provider was forced to pick up the work after Concordia Specialist Care Services said it would “no longer be able to provide the service” to 24,000 Essex residents last Wednesday.

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, informing the health service last Friday.

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found “standards of hygiene and cleanliness in a number of areas did not comply with national standards, medication was out of date, specimens were inappropriately stored in a medication fridge and Concordia staff were unaware of how to access organisational policies”, according to a report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 Clinical Commissioning Group told HSJ  that it had now raised fresh concerns with the Care Quality Commission following Concordia’s decision to pull out of the contract.

NEE CCG told HSJ it was working with the new providers East Suffolk and North Essex FT to “ensure a safe and seamless transition takes place”. The service’s six staff have been transferred to the trust.

Concordia said in a statement: “Concordia Specialist Care Services has ceased delivery of the integrated dermatology service in North East Essex.

“CSCS, North East Essex CCG and East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust have been working closely and cooperatively together to ensure a safe and seamless transition takes place. Clinics are already running this week under the new provider. No other service has been affected.

“This situation is unique in the history of the company – CSCS has been in dialogue with the CCG as to available options with respect to the service. After review of the options available, the option chosen by the CCG was to transfer the services to ESNEFT several weeks earlier than originally planned. CSCS, NEE CCG and ESNEFT have been working closely and cooperatively together to ensure the smooth transition of the services.”

Accounts filed with Companies House suggest the CSCS and its parent company had significant financial problems.

The accounts for the 18-month period to March 2018 for both CSCS and its parent company, Omnes Healthcare Holdings LLP (renamed from Concordia Health Holdings LLP on Friday), said liabilities exceeded its assets and there was a “material uncertainty” which “casts doubts on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”.

Analysis by HSJ of the most recent company accounts, for the 18 months to March 2018, found four of the five subsidiaries listed in Concordia Health Holdings’ accounts had liabilities in excess of their assets. The subsidiaries included Concordia Community Outpatients and Concordia Ambulatory Care Services.

According to its website, Concordia provides ”40 consultant-led services delivered across the UK” from ”over 150 sites”. In addition to providing dermatology care, Concordia run GP practices, and deliver ear, throat and nose, ultrasound and cardiology services.

However, the accounts also said the company’s board “remain active in developing new business [and there was] sufficient cash flow [which] can be made available from existing sources to pay debts of the group as they fall due”.

A spokesman told HSJ via email that the accounts, the most recent publicly available, were not a “fair representation of the picture in 2019 [as they are] over 12 months out of date”.

He added: “We are restructuring our companies, and as a result all services are continuing sustainably and on a long-term basis with the exception of the [Essex] dermatology service. No other service is affected.”