NHS trusts in Cornwall are exploring whether they could provide a suitable home for over 20 community services, HSJ has learned.

The discussions come after the county’s current community services provider, Peninsula Community Health, announced earlier this month it would stop running the services at the end of its contract next March.

Lizard Cornwall

Peninsula Community Health saidearlier this month it would stop running community services in Cornwall

The social enterprise has said that a number of issues, including legacy debts it inherited when it was formed, made attempts to extend its contract with Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group unviable.

The £87m-turnover organisation was created by NHS staff in 2011 to take over a number of community services from NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust as part of the Transforming Community Services programme.

A source with knowledge of current discussions about the services’ future has told HSJ meetings are being held between Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and Kernow Health, a GP federation in the region.

Cornwall Partnership, the county’s only mental health provider and Royal Cornwall Hospitals, its biggest acute provider, are in separate merger talks.

It is unclear whether the local providers would be looking to take over the services on an interim or longer term basis.

Peninsula chief executive Steve Jenkin told HSJ that the social enterprise was “badly set up” and blamed legacy debts for its difficulties.

He said: “When I came into post two years ago I identified a financial shortfall for the organisation. It was very clear that there had been problems with how we had been set up – we inherited a deficit of £1m. We were probably financially insolvent on day one because of that. We were badly set up.”

Mr Jenkins cited the need to pay staff costs that were incurred while services were still run by the PCT as an important factor in its problems.

“Our staff have worked remarkably hard. We’ve delivered massively increased activity against our contract, yet we couldn’t get to a position where financially we could continue.

“My message to the NHS or local authorities would be to ensure similar organisations are set up on a very sound financial footing; then they would have a chance to develop and be innovative.”