Mystery surrounds the future of MediaCityUK-based mobile health company Now Healthcare Group.

The company’s CEO and founder Lee Dentith emailed staff last week with the bombshell news that the business could close from the end of May following the loss of a key contract.

Mr Dentith has not responded to BusinessCloud and the company has made no official statement but one unnamed member of staff said everyone was ‘stunned’ at the announcement.

Now Healthcare Group was founded in 2015 and has two brands – the Now Patient app where NHS patients can reorder repeat prescriptions and the digital GP platform Now GP, where patients can have a mobile consultation with a GP.

As recently as March 2020 the Now Patient app had reported a 500 per cent surge in uptake of its service as the UK battled to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s thought around 30 people are employed across the company’s MediaCity base and its £1.5m digital pharmacy Now Pharmacy, in Mill Lane, Liverpool, which was opened in 2018 by Steve Rotherham, Metro Mayor for Liverpool.

The unnamed member of staff told BusinessCloud: “Everyone has been working really hard. From what we could tell the company seemed to be really growing. Everything is up in the air.”

According to Companies House, Now Healthcare Group’s accounts were due on January 31, 2020.

News of the company’s demise comes after a critical report by the Care Quality Commission into its Now GP business.

The practice was first visited on October 8, 2019 and rated “as inadequate for providing safe care”.

A warning notice was issued to the provider because “there were examples of poor prescribing which included controlled drugs; consent to share information with the patients NHS GP was not always obtained before prescribing high risk medicines; and patients were not always risk assessed appropriately”.

This was followed by subsequent visits on February 28 and March 2, 2020. The final report was published on April 4 and said: “We found the provider had made some improvements in providing safe services but further improvements were still needed.”

In 2018 the company opened up its £1.5m ‘Tele-Pharmacy’ in Liverpool, aimed at helping people living with chronic care conditions to manage their medical needs through the AI-powered mobile app Now Patient.

Now Pharmacy claimed at the time it would be able to dispense around 500,000 prescriptions per month.

Mr Dentith said in 2018: “We are the first and only tele-health company in the world to have its own tele-pharmacy, which has been kitted out with the optimum robotic technology to streamline processes and service and fulfil medicines for thousands of NHS patients.”

In 2017 leading health cash plan provider Medicash invested £4m in the Now Healthcare Group with Medicash’s CEO Sue Weir joining the board.

Mr Dentith’s last public statement came in March 2020 in a company press release reporting that the Now Patient app had seen a 500 per cent surge in uptake of its service over the previous seven days because of COVID-19.

He said: “This is a very concerning time for so many people, especially those living with underlying health conditions and now is the time that people can start to understand the huge benefit of technology and put their trust first-hand in using app-based services like Now Patient.

“Many of our patients must go into a period of social-distancing so heading out to their local pharmacy to collect the numerous medications is not an option – particularly when the pharmacies can be a breeding ground for germs. We are proud to play a small role in helping to keep people safe and contain spread of the virus in the best way possible way.”

The press release went on to say Now Healthcare Group had seen a ‘huge increase’ in its digital GP platform – Now GP, where patients can have a mobile consultation with a GP.