'Catalogue of failures' behind collapse of £800m NHS deal

"Services for patients are likely to suffer" - the verdict of MPs after the collapse of the huge NHS care contract. Credit: PA Images

A "catalogue of failures" lay behind the collapse of an £800 million NHScontract to outsource care of older and mentally ill people in Cambridgeshire, MPs have found.

The Public Accounts Committee was scathing about the doomed deal between Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and UnitingCare Partnership, which collapsed after just eight months.

The MPs said: "It was then grossly irresponsible of the trusts and the CCG to rush ahead with the contract without having resolved significant differences in their understanding of the contract price or indeed the scope of services that were included in that price."

In a strongly-worded report the committee said the "astonishing array oferrors" in the contract showed that the health sector was not "getting thecommercial basics right".

The committee's Labour chairwoman Meg Hillier said: "It beggars belief that a contract of such vital importance to patients should be handled with suchincompetence.

"The deal went ahead without parties agreeing on what would be provided and at what price - a failure of business acumen that would embarrass a child in a sweet shop, and one with far more serious consequences.

"Services for patients are likely to suffer and we will be expecting theclinical commissioning group to come clean about precisely how much damage has been done."

An NHS England spokesman said: "The hospitals, GPs and community health teams in Cambridgeshire have clearly now learnt from their mistakes over this process."