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Virgin Care wins £1bn worth of NHS contracts in one year

Private providers are winning an increasing number NHS contracts, with Virgin Care taking on over £1bn in NHS contracts last year.

A data analysis by pressure group NHS Support Federation, found that in 2016/17, private companies won 43% of NHS contracts – up from 34% the previous year.

However, a report by the pressure group added that over the last year, £7.1bn worth of NHS clinical contracts have been awarded, which the pressure group said is on par with the year before.

Virgin Care was found to have won the most NHS clinical contracts, picking up over £1bn worth of NHS awards in 2016/17, which amounts to a third of the total value of contracts won by non-NHS providers in the last year.

This includes a £700m contract to run 200 health and social care services in Bath and North East Somerset in November 2016.

The report said: ‘Virgin Care’s procurement strategy – targeting contracts that cover a very large number of services in both health and social care – is in line with the changes that are taking place within the NHS and the development of new models of care.

It added that the contracts ‘place Virgin Care right at the heart of the NHS in a prime position to influence and help develop new models of care’.

This comes as the BMA warned that NHS England plans to bring local health and social care services under one contract run the risk of privatising NHS services.

A spokesperson for Virgin Care said: ‘We have a strong track record of delivering high quality, free NHS services over the last 11 years. More than 93% of people rating the services we run would recommend them, while the CQC have said in their recent report we can evidence the improvements we have made to community services.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 
’Spend on private healthcare by the NHS accounts for just eight pence of every pound and this Government is fully committed to a world class NHS owned and funded by the British taxpayer and free at the point of the use, now and in the future.’

This comes as a recent survey by researchers at Imperial College London showed that when practices are owned by limited companies under APMS contracts, patients are less satisfied with the service provided in comparison with those under GMS contracts.

Despite this, data recently obtained by Pulse via a Freedom of Information Act showed that almost all new GP practices (between 2013 and 2017) have been offered APMS contracts.