The collapse of the £800 million UnitingCare Partnership (UCP) contract has been scrutinised for a third time by Cambridgeshire County Council's Health Committee.

Chief executives of Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust (CUHFT), Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT).and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) along with the Chair of Cambridgeshire Healthwatch were questioned by the Committee.

The Committee confirmed its opinion that the UCP model was the right way to approach the challenges which Cambridgeshire's health and social care sectors present. It noted the positive way in which the employees involved had responded to the collapse and the co-operative way in which local partners had worked together to get through it.

Councillors on the Committee highlighted several contributors to the collapse:

·         NHS England should have taken a much more active role in assessing the robustness of the proposals especially with regard to the change in corporate structure and its implications for liability for VAT;

·         Monitor, the NHS improvement body,  should not have been content with a 'high level' review;

·         The contract should not have started in such a hurry with some many unanswered questions;

·         The CCG should have conducted more thorough due diligence on the Cambridgeshire Community Services handover package before agreeing a final go ahead;

·         CUHFT should have alerted other stakeholders as soon as its deteriorating financial position meant that it would be unlikely to be able to bail out any UCP shortfalls; and

·         NHS England should not have let what was going to be an invaluable pilot go under for a sum that was small in relation to the size of the contract. 

County Councillor David Jenkins, Chair of the Committee, said: "˜The UCP model was locally essential and nationally ground-breaking. It's the sort of innovative approach which is necessary both to reduce the costs of health and social care and to improve the lives of people. We need to find ways of making the investment necessary to fund the transition from current practice to such models.'

The Committee agreed that this matter has had its fair share of scrutiny and that now the focus should be on the future, embedding the improvements which UCP had started to implement and finding ways to fund elements of the UCP plan which are currently on hold.


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