Wheelchair provider Millbrook Healthcare has gone into partnership with private company Cairngorm Capital LP II following the retirement of founder and majority owner Colin Croll.
The ownership of Millbrook Healthcare and its subsidiaries has now transferred to the Millbrook Executive Management team and Cairngorm Capital.
Millbrook Healthcare says Cairngorm Capital’s expert strategic guidance and investment capital will facilitate expansion and continued focus on service users, adding: “This will enable Phillip Campling, Chief Executive, together with Millbrook’s longstanding management team to increase market share; extend the company’s range of services and broaden customers’ experience.”
Cairngorm says the purchase also means Millbrook will benefit from a strengthened Board and operational improvements.
The Millbrook management team will continue to lead the business, with the strategic and investment support provided by Cairngorm Capital. The provision of wheelchair services for Kent remain unchanged and the service will continue to be provided by Millbrook Healthcare Limited, from the same premises, using the same staff.
Staff will continue to be employed by Millbrook Healthcare.
Mr Campling said, “Millbrook is at a really exciting point in its development and is ready to capitalise on numerous growth opportunities. We have ambitious goals to fulfil but Millbrook has world-class foundations, with strong investor support, first-rate employees and a well-deserved reputation for delivering high quality and responsive services. I look forward to the next phase of its development.”
But Cllr Karen Constantine has highlighted concerns and says there is a need for further scrutiny by Kent County Council’s health scrutiny panel.
She said: “I’m very concerned that the service is far from stable. I fear a difficult contract has been ‘off loaded’, to the possible detriment of both services users and staff. These contracts need to be bought back in house and delivered for the benefit of users, not to contribute to the profits of an Investment Company. On Cairngorms own website they state they invest in “private mid-market growth companies in manufacturing, distribution and services industries. We focus on companies that can weather economic volatility, have shown consistent historical growth and have significant future growth prospects.”
In reference to comments made by Cllr Constantine, a Cairngorn spokesperson said: “We are conscious that there has been criticism of our involvement in the provision of wheelchair services. However, we often inherit wheelchair services that require significant improvement and this requires a robust and lengthy collaborative approach, with relevant stakeholder engagement.
“In these situations, our focus is on reducing the waiting list, while improving the waiting times for the provision of equipment and repairs; enhancing service users’ experience and providing a high-quality service for all our service users and carers.
“Neither Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group or Kent County Council have asked Cairngorm Capital to take over the wheelchair service from Millbrook Healthcare. They view our partnership as a positive step and are fully supportive.”
Previous backlog issues
Millbrook came under fire last year when Kent Healthwatch, county wheelchair users and disability forums and county councillors, including Thanet representatives Karen Constantine and Lesley Game, demanded its contract managed by Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group be axed.
Millbrook Healthcare was tasked with providing NHS funded wheelchairs for children and adults in Kent and Medway with long-term needs of six months or more.
But the service was slammed for a backlog which has resulted in some 330 people waiting over a year for a wheelchair and, as of March 2018, 251 children and 999 adults waiting for more than 18 weeks for assessment, repairs or provision of equipment.
Alisa Ogilvie, from Thanet CCG, apologised for the experience suffered by service users. The CCG pledged additional funding to deal with the issue.
Waiting times for adults have since reduced from 31 weeks to 23 weeks
Dr Thaper, who led Cairngorm Capital’s team investment, said: “Our firm is very conscious of the need to support the evolving needs of an ageing population and to reduce the pressure on acute services – it has long been an objective of ours to support companies delivering the solutions to do so.
“Millbrook is an excellent example of the type of company that we like to partner with. It is well established in the healthcare industry, has a differentiated offering and is run by an excellent management team. Millbrook’s dedication to delivering the highest level of care to service users is present throughout the organisation.”