CARE contracts have been awarded to a new operator following the collapse of one of the UK’s largest home care providers.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) warned Allied Healthcare about its financial sustainability in November and advised councils to make contingency plans.

The care provider had announced earlier in the year that it was struggling with debts, blaming low fees paid by councils, but was able to restructure its finances.

In the notice issued in November, the CQC said it had “serious doubts about the future of the company” and said it was likely the business would fail.

It was the first time the regulator had issued such a notice about the financial sustainability of a social care provider.

Following the notice, Allied Healthcare said it was exploring the sale or transition of services to alternative providers, including the transfer of staff.

St Helens Council cabinet papers have now revealed that contingency plans were put in place following the regulator’s warning.

The report said: “In response, contingency plans were developed locally to ensure that in the event Allied Healthcare did stop operating as a domiciliary care agency, St Helens residents would remain safe and supported appropriately.

“Any disruption to their care could be minimized and the staff providing that care could be supported through this difficult time.

“Prior to Allied Healthcare declaring they could no longer operate, St Helens served notice and enacted their contingency plan.

“Throughout this time staff have been supportive to residents and the continuity of care has been maintained.”

At the time, Allied Healthcare provided services to more than 13,000 people across the UK.

In St Helens, it provided domiciliary care support to 69 residents living in extra care schemes and two residents living in individual properties.

The cabinet report said staff were formally transferred to work for the Manchester-based care provider, Human Support Group, from December 14.

Human Support Group already operated within the borough, the report said, and were part of a tender process around 12 months ago when Allied Healthcare was awarded the contract to provide care.

The report said it will now look to learn from Allied Healthcare’s demise.

The report said: “In total, 74 local authorities were affected by the demise of Allied Healthcare and it has been agreed to review how the demise of other agencies can be avoided, if there are any concerns about the stability of any other agencies and how we work with the market going forward in light of the fragility of the domiciliary care sector.”