Serious consideration needs to be given to changing the provider of Suffolk’s health services, after the company responsible for the contract announced it was expected to make a £9million loss.
Peter Clifford, chairman of Sudbury community health group Watch, said this, combined with the news Serco was ending its contracts with Braintree Hospital and out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall early, placed question marks over its suitability.
“We always said that the price Serco bid for the Suffolk community health contract in order to under-cut everyone else was unrealistic,” said Mr Clifford.
“The service is seriously under stress and we know they are short of 70 people across Suffolk.”
Serco won the £140million NHS Suffolk contract to provide community health services last autumn. The provider then came under fire over plans to slash more than 100 jobs, but in the end only made 27 staff redundant.
It says the early termination of contracts with Braintree and NHS Kernow followed a clinical health operations review, but the agreement with Suffolk, which runs until October 2015, would continue despite anticipated losses of £9million in the financial year.
“We need to consider if Serco should run the contract for another 18 months or we should seek a more reliable provider,” said Mr Clifford. “Our concern is for patients and staff.”
A spokesman for Serco said it was committed to community healthcare and the service in Suffolk.
“At all times, we have ensured that the service is properly resourced to deliver a safe, quality service and will continue to do so,” he said.
A spokesman for the area’s clinical commissioning groups, said: “Serco has affirmed its commitment to the contract and we will continue to work with it and closely monitor its delivery of these services.”