Northamptonshire County Council wins £100k settlement after dispute over performance from healthcare provider

Northamptonshire County Council is in a long term contract with Shaw Healthcare
Northamptonshire County Council is in a long term contract with Shaw Healthcare

Northamptonshire County Council has received a £100k settlement from a healthcare provider after a dispute over its performance.

The authority has a long term private finance initiative (PFI) contract with Shaw Healthcare, which sees the private company run four healthcare centres for elderly people across the county.

It appears though that the two had locked horns in a contract dispute over Shaw’s performance in 2018/19, but the dispute has now been resolved thanks to the large sum settlement.

The £100k figure has now found its way back into the adult social services budget, but the two organisations declined to comment on the specific areas of its service where the county council felt that Shaw had not lived up to its contract promises.

The PFI deal, which was signed in 2003 by the then Labour administration at the county council, has faced criticism in recent months.

In October last year it was reported that around 50 to 70 per cent of beds were unoccupied each week at Shaw’s private care homes, as patients the county council were referring did not qualify under the contract. This is thought to have been costing the authority roughly £2million a year.

But the agenda papers for next week’s cabinet meeting on July 9, where the issue will be discussed further, do not specify if the dispute is related to these reports.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it could not provide details of the settlement under the terms of the contract and confidentiality clauses, but could confirm that it relates to the ‘obligation generally for Shaw to ensure that the facilities are maintained and available for use by clients’.

The spokesman added: “We are continuing to work with Shaw Healthcare and the Department of Health constructively to vary the existing contract and ensure that the services and facilities we commission at the centres meet the council’s needs today and going forward and reflect the changes we have seen in social care since the contract started in 2003.

“We have been working together to define what these needs are and to agree on how we can make sure we get the best use of the centres in the future.

“In the meantime working with Shaw we have been able to increase the current occupancy levels to 70 per cent across the centres, which is a significant improvement on recent months. We expect the variation to the contract to help us increase this further.”

The four care centres ran by Shaw Healthcare in the county are Thackley Green in Corby, Longlands Specialist Care centre in Daventry, Lancum House in Wellingborough and Turn Furlong in Northampton. The annual contract being paid by the county council to Shaw for the 204 beds is worth £8.8million.

The contract has previously and consistently been reported as running for 25 years up until 2028, however, the response to the Local Democracy Reporting Service has now indicated that the contract will run up until 2034. Clarification is being sought as to whether this is an error, or whether the contract has been extended.

Shaw Healthcare was also approached, but declined to comment.