An investigation has found a clinical commissioning group (CCG) in Devon did not breach NHS procurement regulations in the way it went out to tender on a contract to provide adult care services.
However, NHS watchdog Monitor did find Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG did not have enough information to properly assess prospective providers at the time it selected Royal Devon & Exeter Foundation Trust as its preferred provider, and if it awarded the contract without obtaining more information “it would be likely” to breach the rules.
In provisional findings, Monitor said before awarding the contract the CCG “will need to know the scope of services to be provided, how Royal Devon & Exeter Foundation Trust will deliver them, and how much it will cost to deliver these services”.
The watchdog found the CCG did not breach rules around discriminating in favour of a provider, failing to act transparently and conflict of interest.
The inquiry was launched in January after the incumbent supplier, Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT), lodged a complaint that the decision-making process breached the Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition Regulations.
In its submission the trust said: “NDHT wishes to make it absolutely clear that in deciding to make this complaint, it is acting, and will continue to act, for one reason and one reason only: to ensure the delivery of safe and effective care to patients. We do not believe that the transfer of services at this time will do anything other than compromise patient care.”
The contract, worth around £50 million a year over three years with a two-year extension, is to provide community services for adults with complex care needs in eastern Devon. The current contract expires in September 2015.
In a letter to Monitor Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, said he was “dismayed” by the decision to investigate. “The delay in this much needed and long overdue integration is already having a negative impact on the quality and safety of patient care and this further delay will make matters even worse,” he said.
Monitor will publish a final report in July.