New blow to Bradford Royal Infirmary as Bupa suspends private contract

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford Royal Infirmary Bradford Royal Infirmary

An international private health care company is refusing to let its patients be treated at Bradford Royal Infirmary after a damning report said the hospital had failed to meet four of six national standards.

In the latest “worrying” development, Bupa has suspended its use of the hospital, citing concerns about watchdog enforcement action following an inspection at BRI.

A whistleblower, who works at BRI but asked to remain anonymous, contacted the Telegraph & Argus to say: “In effect, Bupa are saying it’s okay for NHS patients but not good enough for their patients.”

The decision has bemused Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which pointed out that Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors did not even visit the private ward.

But Bupa said the suspension would remain until either the Warning Notice, served by the CQC, to improve staffing was lifted or the Trust gave sufficient assurances.

It is understood that consultants who work on the private York Suite were informed of the decision by a Bupa letter.

Bupa medical director Dr Annabel Bentley said customer’s health and wellbeing was an absolute priority.

“The CQC’s recent report about standards of care at Bradford Royal Infirmary identified concerns about quality, particularly staffing standards. As a result, we have temporarily suspended Bupa recognition of the hospital which means that private treatment there will not be covered, while it addresses the CQC’s concerns,” she said.

Around 100 Bupa customers use BRI annually.

Chief operating officer at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Helen Barker said: “We were surprised that Bupa has temporarily suspended its contract with the BRI, given the CQC inspectors reported no issues with the services on the York Suite.

“We have sent Bupa a detailed response providing them with assurances about the care and treatment we provide to their patients, in addition to the significant steps we have taken to immediately improve standards around staffing in our A&E department and two other wards, which was the main area of concern raised in the CQC inspection last October.

“We are confident that all patients are cared for and treated appropriately at BRI.”

Bupa said it suspended its recognition of any hospitals which had enforcement notices served on them by the CQC – but there are concerns that sends out the wrong message.

Bradford East MP David Ward said: “What I’m concerned about is that it’s sending out the message that it’s a second class service.”

The Lib Dem said it was a “little bit of a knee-jerk reaction and too close to ‘guilty until proven innocent’ – especially as the part used by private patients was not inspected.”

Bradford West Respect MP George Galloway said he had met the trust’s chief executive and was confident issues were being corrected.

“I’d be the first to say if I thought the hospital was sub-standard,” he said.

“Maybe BRI should tell them to get lost.”

Gerry Sutcliffe, the Bradford South Labour MP, said: “The Trust identified they’d got a problem, which was confirmed by the CQC and the Trust have set out steps to put things right.

“It’s slightly worrying that a company like Bupa decided to do that.”

Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies said: “They’re entitled to make that decision and they’ve got to do the best for their policy holders.”

Bupa said it would cover treatment for customers whose treatment was pre-authorised before January 13.

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