• North East London Treatment Centre rated “requires improvement”
  • Centre is at heart of hard-fought procurement process between local NHS trust and Care UK

An elective treatment centre at the heart of a competition dispute has been rated requires improvement by inspectors.

The Care Quality Commission has given the second lowest rating to the North East London Treatment Centre, run by independent provider Care UK, and requires improvement ratings for the safe and well led domains.

Chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “There was not sufficient oversight or risk management in place for patients coming from the local NHS acute hospital for treatment. Many staff we spoke with stated this was due to unclear communication and difference in operating procedures.”

The clinical commissioning groups covering the outer London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge are currently running a tender exercise to run the centre.

The commissioners could not confirm when the contract would be awarded and HSJ understands the timeline is being reviewed.

NHS Improvement ordered the commissioners to run another tendering exercise last year after Care UK complained that they had not taken sufficient account of clinical quality when they awarded the £55m contract to local acute trust Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals.

The centre has 24 day case beds and 21 inpatient beds. There are six theatres that operate Monday to Saturday.

A Care UK spokeswoman said: “The CQC’s report confirms the North East London Treatment Centre delivers good outcomes for local patients, a short length of stay for inpatients, low readmission rates and consistently meets the longstanding NHS target for patients to wait no longer than 18 weeks for planned surgery. This is particularly important in an area where other providers have historically missed targets and where patients would otherwise experience long delays for essential procedures. The CQC also recognised the caring and responsive nature of the service, holding both one-stop and evening clinics for patients, and rated all aspects of the inpatient service as good.

“Patients’ views of the centre, measured through the independent NHS patient led assessment of care environments scores, were more positive than the NHS average in virtually all the categories measured.

“Since the inspection took place, more than six months ago, Care UK has continued to work closely with the local NHS acute trust to further develop partnership arrangements and to align policies and operating procedures to allow the best use of the centre’s surgical facilities to fully support the local NHS economy.

“We are continuing to roll out resuscitation training and have reviewed and changed processes to ensure medication is always secure and patient information is attached to both sides of consent forms.

“In common with all NHS services, we treat any preventable incident extremely seriously and ensure that an exceptionally thorough analysis of the cause is undertaken. This has been the case with regard to the very small number of preventable incidents at the centre, and, as a direct result new additional safety standards have been incorporated in all invasive surgical procedures.”

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust was recently moved out of special measures and started reporting its waiting time data to NHS England again.