Liverpool community health deal 'a huge risk', says nursing union

health worker holding documents Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption A health inspection raised a number of concerns at Bridgewater Community Healthcare

Awarding Liverpool community services to an under-performing trust would be "a huge risk", a union has warned.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is concerned over standards at Bridgewater Community Healthcare, which was rated as "requires improvement".

NHS bosses paused the decision to allow Bridgewater to take over services from Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust.

Bridgewater chief executive Colin Scales said the trust has "worked hard" to improve.

The RCN statement said it would be "wholly inappropriate" for Bridgewater "to be allowed to acquire further NHS contracts until and unless they have demonstrated that they have turned around their existing performance."

It said last summer's Care Quality Commission inspection showed the trust "is currently unable to deliver its existing services in a safe and effective way".

Image copyright Science Photo Library

"Should the current transaction continue in its current form we believe it would represent a huge risk to community services in Liverpool, both in terms of quality and safety", RCN said.

A spokesman for NHS Improvement, which oversees standards at NHS trusts, said it was performing "additional evaluation of plans" during the temporary pause in order to "to assure ourselves that the proposals remain appropriate".

Mr Scales said this "will allow us the opportunity to demonstrate that progress to NHS Improvement whilst allowing us to answer the issues raised by the RCN".

The health watchdog gave Bridgewater, which is used by 1.5m people every year, a rating of "good" for being caring and responsive.

But inspectors said it requires improvement in providing safe, effective and well-led services after finding unsafe practice in the management of medication, end of life prescriptions and urgent care centres not following national guidance.

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