• Trust cannot take on clinical work needing longer than a one-night stay in treatment centre
  • More than 150 patients previously booked in will now have surgery at different location
  • NUH is continuing to work through workforce challenges

A treatment centre which recently changed provider will only be taking on clinical work with “at most a one-night stay” for the next few months to ensure patient safety.

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust took over services at the Nottingham Treatment Centre from private provider Circle on 29 July after winning a bitterly contested procurement. Warnings have previously been raised that services at the centre would be disrupted because of the short handover period

Medical director Keith Girling told HSJ the trust took the decision to “temporarily close” the short stay unit at the treatment centre in August, because of “unavailability of equipment due to the much-shortened mobilisation period and workforce challenges which we continue to work through”.

Dr Girling said: “We re-opened this facility on 16 September, when in order to ensure patient safety, we recommenced clinical work that can reasonably expect at most a one-night post-operative stay for the first 2-3 months.”

He said NUH will “further increase inpatient activity through the treatment centre in the months to come”.

“We have contacted just over 160 patients who were previously booked into the treatment centre for joint surgery to inform them that they will have their surgery in our elective orthopaedic facility at Nottingham City Hospital in this next period,” he added

According to Circle’s data, 5,281 patients were treated in the short stay unit when it was run by the company between January 2018 and July 2019, with more than 100 patients typically treated per month.

HSJ asked NUH for figures on inpatient activity since it took over the contract. Dr Girling said meaningful activity comparisons pre- and post-29 July “are difficult for a number of reasons”, including NUH running services under different contractual arrangements.

“We are exactly where we planned to be six weeks into the new contract,” he said.

HSJ reported last month the treatment centre may face medical staff shortages because of some doctors’ concerns the takeover by the NHS could have tax and pensions implications.

The trust’s preferred option is for all doctors working at the centre to become substantive employees. However, an anonymous source close to the centre told HSJ just under half of the activity previously performed at the treatment centre was carried out ad-hoc by doctors employed through individual limited liability partnerships.