Serco probed over Suffolk Community Healthcare contract

Labour councillors today challenged the Suffolk Community Healthcare providers SERCO after further changes to their senior management team were announced today.

Suffolk Community Healthcare (SHC) appeared in front of Suffolk County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee and confirmed that Abigail Tierney was leaving SCH to take up a post in North America. This announcement was prompted after questioning from Labour shadow spokesperson for Health and Social Care Cllr Sarah Adams who asked about how SERCO can ensure there is continuity of services when SHC were now looking for their third CEO in the last 18 months.

Bizarrely, SCH confirmed that continuity could be guaranteed as Ms Tierney would be kept on as a non-executive director of SCH despite relocating to another continent.

SCH have appeared before each of the last three Health Scrutiny committees following concerns about the quality of services they have been providing and each time they have turned up with different representatives. This led Cllr Adams to raise concerns about whether SCH could be sure that they were still on track to make all the improvements identified by Health Scrutiny and written in their remedial action plan.

Cllr Adams said; “It is a real concern that no one seems to be able to stay in the top job at Suffolk Community Healthcare. When SCH need a dynamic leadership team to drive through the improvements required to ensure they meet their contractual requirements and improve patient safety another CEO has left. Just as SCH seem to be getting on top of their brief they lose another senior manager. We will be keeping an even closer eye on SERCO in their time of turbulence for them”.

She added; ”It seems almost unbelievable that one of their executive board members can fully understand and engage with the changing needs of Suffolk people despite residing in North America, I sincerely hope that SERCO review this decision”.

At Health Scrutiny SCH confirmed that they are making a loss on the contract, although they refused to say how much and what potential impact this may have on future services and whether they would pull out of the contract altogether.

In a further development Suffolk County Council confirmed that there were still a number of problems they were having with the contract delivery. The biggest of these was that invoices being sent by SERCO to the county council were incorrect and because of IT compatibility issues the council were having to manually reconcile them in order to ensure they were for the correct amount.

Cllr Adams added; “It is a real concern that SERCO cannot get the invoicing right and this means an increased workload for county council officers. I do hope that SERCO are not over charging and being difficult on purpose”.

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