UPDATED - No investigation after Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals miss out on £230m contract

Locala's Robert Flack.
Locala's Robert Flack.

The health regulator has refused to investigate a complaint by a cash-strapped NHS trust over how it lost out on a multi-million pound contract.

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust demanded an investigation following a decision not to award it a five-year care contract worth more than £230m.

Calderdale Royal Hospital

Calderdale Royal Hospital

The contract to provide community health services in Kirklees went to Batley-based Locala, a private provider, after the trust’s bid was unsuccessful.

In July trust bosses lodged a formal complaint with health regulator Monitor, saying they did not agree with the decision by North Kirklees and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which control the local NHS budget.

Now Monitor has declined to carry out an investigation - and bosses at the hospital trust have conceded that it is time to “move on”.

Monitor said in a statement: “Having reviewed the information submitted to us and spoken to the commissioners and the trust about this complaint, we do not think that opening a formal investigation would be the best use of our resources.

“From the information we’ve seen, we think it is unlikely that an investigation into this complaint would lead to a finding of breach of the Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition Regulations.”

News of Monitor’s refusal to investigate emerged in papers this week’s meeting of North Kirklees CCG’s governing body.

A report to the meeting said: “We have been advised that Monitor do not intend to undertake a formal investigation into this complaint.

“We welcome this news and will continue moving forward with the mobilisation of the new service.”

Calderdale and Huddersfield led a consortium which included Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, the Forget Me Not Hospice and groups of GPs to bid for the £238m contract.

The trust, which is forecasting a deficit of more than £20m by the end of this financial year, expected to lose £5m if it missed out on the deal.

Winning the contract would have brought Calderdale and Huddersfield around £30m in new income, with associated costs.

After the contract went to Locala, a not-for-profit community interest company, the consortium called for an investigation into the procurement process and the impact of losing the contract on patients.

But now Bosses at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust will not be taking the matter further.

Chief executive Owen Williams said: “We have, with our GP partners, reviewed the feedback from Monitor and decided that it is in the best interests of all concerned to move on and ensure we are prepared for winter, continue to address our financial challenges and are well equipped to manage far-reaching service changes.”

The CCGs carried out a six-month procurement process to award the contract, which is designed to provide more NHS services outside of traditional hospital settings and cut demand on A&E services in Kirklees.

Locala was to take over the contract from this month.

After winning the contract in July, Robert Flack, chief executive of Locala Community Partnerships, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be the chosen lead provider for this work.”