Health For All, the Middleton based charity that has worked with communities across South Leeds for 25 years to improve health and well being, has lost its contract to run the Health Trainers project.
The service was recently re-tendered as part of a wider ‘One You’ scheme. Health Trainers work one-to-one with patients referred through their GP to help them adopt healthier lifestyles. The project won an award from the Royal Society for Public Health in 2015.
The One You contract was awarded to Reed Momenta a partnership set up by the Reed Group, a London based company that operates around the world and is best known as a recruitment agency. Reed Partnerships describes itself as a “public service provider” and actively bids for local authority contracts throughout the country.
Tania Carlisle a former team leader with the Health Trainers said: “It’s a shame that the health trainer contract has gone to a faceless corporate from outside Leeds, taking money out of our city.
“The health trainers based at Health For All are an established and competent team and, even if some of them transfer across, much time, energy and knowledge will be wasted as this brand new outside organisation basically starts again from scratch.”
“I understand it’s not possible to win every contract, but as someone who helped to set HFA up 25 years ago and as a current Trustee, I’m obviously disappointed. As Councillors, we do not have any say in the specification or award of these contracts.
“Despite this setback, I’m pleased that the Council has recently awarded HFA the Better Together community health contract together with Hamara and Asha, and that it has extended HFA’s contract to provide Family Health Services.”
Leeds City Council recently signed up to the Leeds Social Value Charter which encourages partners to “invest the Leeds pound in Leeds” and “recognise the added value that community led activity and organisations bring to the city.” It is not clear how these principles were reflected in the tendering process.
South Leeds Life spoke to two local GP practices about the situation. Liz Richardson from the Church Street Surgery in Hunslet said:
“The health trainer service has been really well received by patients at our practice, with many patients taking on board the need to improve their health by making improvements to their lifestyle, whether this is increasing their exercise levels, making changes to their diet or getting the support they need to stop smoking. The clinics are always full, and patient demand for the service is increasing, just at the time when we are informed the service will no longer continue in its present form.”
“We are advised the replacement service will be a modified version, and won’t offer the same level of care and advice presently offered, I can only hope for the sake of my patient population that this is not the case. I sincerely hope that patients continue to be empowered to make changes to their health despite the changes that are afoot.”
Elizabeth Scott, Practice Manager at The Arthington Medical Centre, commented:
“We are very disappointed that the Health Trainer service is no longer going to be operating from our surgery as our patients were just starting to get engaged with it and we were getting an increase in the number of patients wanting to make use of it. We think it’s very important to have a service like this that runs from our surgery as many of our patients prefer familiar surroundings and like to get to know the person they are dealing with as this enables them to feel more comfortable and receptive to the advice they are getting.
“We have no idea what service we will be getting in the future, if any, as there has been no communication from the people who have won the contract.”
A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said:
“Following the open, transparent procurement process required by law, the best tender to deliver the Leeds Integrated Healthy Living Service was submitted by Reed Momenta. Organisations delivering work of this type in the city were able to bid for the work and their tenders were evaluated using strict criteria to ensure the best possible quality would be delivered with the new fully integrated lifestyle service.
“The new services are designed to meet individual needs relating to lifestyle rather than simply having to access different services. This way of working was designed in consultation with many stakeholders including service users, potential service users and providers of lifestyle services.
“The details of how the service will be delivered when it becomes operational are currently being developed and Reed Momenta have made clear they are keen to maintain the skills and experience of employees currently delivering healthy living interventions in the city.
“We understand that people who have worked hard to deliver services until now may feel disappointed that their organisation was not chosen as a service provider.
“Reed Momenta have a wide range of experience delivering work of this type, including LivingWise, an adult weight management service in North Lincolnshire, and City LivingWise – an integrated health service support that enables residents and workers in the City of London to manage their weight, have an NHS Health Check and access physical activity on referral services. Reed Momenta also provides the integrated health contract One You Haringey. Haringey residents are able to access adult weight management, alcohol reduction, smoking cessation, NHS Health Checks and physical activity support services. Their delivery of the Healthier You: the NHS Diabetes Presentation Programme covers Bath, Swindon & Wiltshire, Berkshire, Cumbria, Hertfordshire, Greater Manchester, London North East and South, Lancashire and South Cumbria and West Yorkshire.
“Leeds City Council continues to commission services from a wide range of local charities and other organisations. We actively encourage local organisations to tender for work, but we retain a responsibility to balance achieving the best possible quality services with appropriate value and factors such as local provision.”
South Leeds Life understands that from a team of 16, 8 staff will transfer to Reed Momenta and 8 will be made redundant.