THE Rutherford Health group (the Group) which operates a network of cancer and diagnostic centres in the UK, announced yesterday (June 6) that an application is to be made to place the Group into liquidation.

More recently the Group opened the first community diagnostics centre of its kind in England, in Taunton, which was visited by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in January.

Since 2015, Rutherford Health has built a network of oncology centres known as the Rutherford Cancer Centres which are located in South Wales, Northumberland, Liverpool and Thames Valley.

The Group comprises a number of subsidiary companies including Rutherford Cancer Centres, Rutherford Diagnostics, Rutherford Innovations and Rutherford Estates.

Rutherford Health has offered an extensive range of advanced cancer treatments at its centres including high energy proton beam therapy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, diagnostic imaging and supportive care services.

Somerset County Gazette: The Rutherford Diagnostic Centre in TauntonThe Rutherford Diagnostic Centre in Taunton

An application will be made later this week to appoint the Official Receiver (an officer of the Insolvency Service) as liquidator.

Staff at the Group’s centres were informed yesterday (June 6) and arrangements are being made to transfer patients to alternative facilities.

A number of factors have contributed to the decision to place the Group into liquidation.

The number of patients presenting to the cancer centres during the COVID-19 pandemic was severely impacted resulting in a critical lack of patient volume.

The Group had invested heavily in building its cancer centre network, one of the most advanced in Europe, and the cost of infrastructure combined with impacted patient flow presented extremely challenging trading conditions.

The Group made efforts to increase patient flow by offering the NHS a not-for-profit national contract in addition to existing local contracts, but this was not taken up.

A process of informing patients is underway and the small number of locally commissioned NHS patients are being returned to their local NHS Trust to finish their treatment.

Sean Sullivan, chief restructuring officer and interim CEO, said: “Rutherford Health has been committed to providing high quality care, and the past couple of years has proven to be an extremely challenging time for the business.

“Covid has been particularly damaging for us as fewer patients were presenting with side effects during the lockdowns, and as a result cancer diagnosis has been delayed and sadly, in many cases, missed. This has meant fewer cancer patients have been presenting to our centres.

“Added to that, the business had grown rapidly over recent years. It was a very expensive business to set up, with over £240 million of capital expenditure to build and develop the cancer centres across the country, however, unfortunately patient numbers have not matched that.

“We made several offers to the NHS, and whilst we secured some contracts they were insufficient and we have not been able to secure mechanisms to expedite process.

"This added to severe financial pressures on the business and we had no option other than to place the Group into liquidation.

“We are very proud to have been able to serve the community and cancer patients across the country."