Aston Healthcare Ltd - Briefing

Introduction

Aston Healthcare Ltd is a provider of general practice services to approximately 25,400 patients across six sites in Whiston, Huyton, Knowsley Village and Halewood. Three of the six sites are within modern bespoke healthcare facilities called Primary Care Resource Centres (PCRCs) managed by the NHS, the other three sites are in private properties under lease agreements.

The six sites are as follows;

  • Manor Farm PCRC, Manor Farm Road, Huyton, L36 0UB (headquarters)
  • Whiston PCRC, Old Colliery Road, Whiston, WL35 3SX
  • The Halewood Centre (PCRC), Roseheath Drive, Halewood, L26 0UP
  • Gresford Medical Centre, Pilch Lane, Huyton, L14 0JE
  • Camberley Medical Centre, Camberley Drive, Halewood, L25 9PS
  • Knowsley Village Medical Centre, Fredrick Lunt Avenue, L34 0HF

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the regulator of healthcare services. Each provider is inspected and assessed in the following areas;

Are they safe?

Are they effective?

Are they caring?

Are they responsive?

Are they well led?

This then leads to an overall rating of either outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate

Aston Healthcare was rated inadequate’ and placed in special measures following a CQC inspection in October 2018. Dr James Heath took the role of Managing Director and was appointed a Director of Aston Healthcare on 30th November 2018.

Since then the CCG and its key partners, NHS England (NHSE) and the CQC, have worked closely with Dr J Heath and the team at Aston to and implement an extensive improvement programme with the aim of the practice becoming ‘good’ within an 18 – 24 month timeframe.

The CQC re inspected the practice in March 2019 and noted improvements leading to a rating of ‘requires improvement’.

Although progress was being made it was slow and the practice had problems in recruiting and retaining staff leaving it reliant on locum doctors and nurses and also agency administration staff.

Aston was subject to a further planned CQC inspection on 13th November 2019 and, in the report published on 28th January 2020, the practice was assessed as ‘requires improvement’. The practice also received a requirement notice in respect of governance. The inspection report can be accessed via https://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-534717095 .

 

What has changed?

Dr James Heath resigned as a Director of Aston Healthcare Ltd on 8th January 2020 and the CCG has subsequently been informed that Dr James Heath is no longer working in Aston Healthcare Ltd.

The CCG has been informed that there was a change in the person with significant control of Aston Healthcare Ltd from Dr Aftab Hossain to Dr F Maassarani Ltd. The effective date of this change was late November 2019.

 

What is the issue?

In early February the practice informed the CCG that it had identified clinical quality and safety concerns and also Health & Safety issues in the 3 non NHS managed sites and wished to close those sites with effect from 21st February 2020. The practice was asked to detail these concerns in writing to the CCG. Following review in conjunction with NHS England/Improvement and the CQC, the CCG has not supported the decision at this time and has requested further information.

Aston Healthcare Ltd confirmed to commissioners and regulators on 24th February 2020 that it had temporarily ceased providing clinical services at two sites namely; Camberley Drive Medical Centre and Gresford Medical Centre and in addition it was operating a reduced clinical service at the Knowsley Village site.

Gresford and Camberley Drive sites will be open with administrative staff only who will be able to assist patients to make prescription requests and/or use the booking service. However, patients needing an appointment will need to attend another Aston site to see a doctor, nurse or other health care professional.

 

What is the CCG doing about this?

The CCG has delegated responsibility from NHS England for commissioning primary medical services to meet the needs of people registered with a Knowsley practice. The CCG’s current registered population is approximately 167,200 of which approximately 25,400 are registered with Aston Healthcare Ltd.

As it is the CCG’s responsibility to ensure that contracted services are available and accessible for local people, the CCG will work with the practice to ensure services are restored.

In the meantime, the CCG team will ensure that patients are aware of the options they have which includes registering with other practices in their local area if they so wish. The CCG will work will work with Healthwatch, local Councillors and local practices to achieve this.

In the longer term, there is a process for any practice wishing to propose changes to its contract, including reducing the number of sites that it operates. This process includes governance oversight, overview and scrutiny and, where required, formal public consultation which would be carried out by the CCG as the body with the statutory responsibility to consult in respect of NHS services. It is the CCG’s responsibility to carry out this process in an open and transparent way through its Primary Care Committee.

 

Summary

Aston Healthcare Ltd has taken the decision to temporarily withdraw clinical services from Gresford Medical Centre and Camberley Drive Medical Centre and has reduced clinical service provision at Knowsley Village Medical Centre. It has done this because it has identified quality and safety issues.

The CCG will continue to work with the practice, NHS England and the CQC to ensure that all contracted services can be restored as soon as possible.