Health trust is told to improve on £19m deal

The Bridgewater Trust HQ in Smithy Brook Road
The Bridgewater Trust HQ in Smithy Brook Road

An under-fire health trust in Wigan has been issued with a performance notice over a £19million frontline contract for a neighbouring authority.

Clinical commissioners in Warrington say they are unhappy with some of the community services offered by Smithy Brook Road based Bridgewater NHS Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

And after a series of meetings between Bridgewater and the Warrington-based commissioners, the latter has formally notified the Wigan trust that it wants urgent action taken on their serious incident reporting.

Bosses at Bridgewater have stressed that the procedure does not directly impact any of the community services offered for Wigan borough, under a similar arrangement with Wigan CCG.

Action plans are also being sought by Warrington CCG on four more elements of the contract.

In a report to Warrington CCG’s board, Pam Broadhead, chief performance officer, said: “Following discussions and meetings with the provider, with respect to their serious incident reporting process, the CCG considers that they are failing to meet the requirements of the quality schedule.

“A contract performance notice has therefore been issued in respect of serious incident reporting processes and the CCG and Bridgewater is in discussion to implement either an appropriate immediate action and/or a remedial action plan.”

Clinical commissioners have also signalled their unease about the “non-provision” of slots which are supposed to be offered as part of Bridgewater’s primary care out-of-hours and extended access services.

Further concerns have surrounded the “unexpected suspension or partial withdrawal of a number of services with little or no notice”, long waiting times for the orthopaedic clinical assessment and treatment service and the state of the enhanced care home support service.

The financial penalties for not meeting the terms of any action plan should not exceed 10 per cent of the monthly value of the contract.

A Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “In Warrington we did make some adjustments to the delivery of a limited number of our smaller commissioned services for a very short period and have been working in collaboration with Warrington CCG.

“Over the past year we have invested time and effort in updating our incident reporting policy. This has already been approved and is in line with the latest national guidance.

“We are rolling out updated incident reporting training for staff to support the dissemination of the new policy across the trust.”

Clinical commissioners in Wigan have signalled an increased level of satisfaction with Bridgewater’s approach to serious incident reporting.

Their performance has been under review since Bridgewater was given a ‘requires improvement’ rating by the Care Quality Commission in February.

But Wigan CCG’s governing body says it has been reassurred by a management restructure at Bridgewater and subsequent internal reviews.

In a report to Wigan CCG’s board Tim Collins, governance assistant director, said a “project to review both incident and serious incident reporting has resulted in an improvement in reporting.”