• Hertfordshire Community Trust chair wrote to MP about decision to award contract to London provider
  • Claims decision “at best looks arbitrary and at worst seems predetermined”
  • Work accounts for roughly a third of HCT’s income

A community trust that lost a key contract has written to members of Parliament, claiming the procurement process was “fundamentally flawed”.

Hertfordshire Community Trust chair Declan O’Farrell wrote to St Albans MP Anne Main, saying the decision to award a £40m contract to a London provider “at best looks arbitrary and at worst seems predetermined”.

In January, Hertfordshire Valley Clinical Commissioning Group announced Central London Community Healthcare Trust would provide its adult community health services.

The work accounts for roughly a third of Hertfordshire Community Trust’s income. Mr O’Farrell’s letter said: “I have some very serious concerns about the impact the decision will have on patient care and the sustainability of local services.”

He said the “geography and density of population are very different” in Herts compared to London, and “the challenges are wholly distinct”.

Mr O’Farrell added the process the CCG followed was “inconsistent, subject to delays and confusion and was poorly led and managed. Furthermore, it is not clear to me why the CCG would tender the service and then award it to a bidder that proposes to charge considerably more than our trust would have charged”.

The five-year contract, with options to extend for a further two years, is due to begin in October.

When HSJ reported the CCG’s decision in January, HCT said it would be talking to regulators about the situation but had ruled out legal action, “to avoid using additional public funds”.

CLCH already provides some public health services in West Hertfordshire.

Responding to questions from HSJ, a Hertfordshire Valley CCG spokeswoman said it stood by the procurement process followed for tendering the contract and the trust’s objections had come as a “surprise”.

The spokeswoman added: “At no point during the procurement did they raise any concerns about the process. We still do not know why they think it is flawed and they have not mounted a legal challenge.”

Andrew Ridley, chief executive at CLCH, said: “CLCH has successfully run both enhanced respiratory services and sexual health services across Hertfordshire for many years, and we are now focussed on the safe and effective transfer of the additional adult community health services on 1 October.”

HCT declined to comment further on the letter. 

Update: This story was updated on 17 April, 2019 to include comments provided by the CCG.