Private provider Virgin Care has won almost £2bn worth of NHS contracts over the past five years, according to a new analysis.
Virgin Care and its subsidiaries now hold at least 400 contracts with more than 40 CCGs across the public sector, which research by The Guardian has found amounts to £1.8bn.
This comes after it was revealed that the private provider secured over £1bn worth of NHS contracts in 2016/17 alone, which amounted to a third of the total value of contracts won by non-NHS providers in that period.
The BMA said taxpayer money should be ‘used to support overstretched NHS services’ instead of funding ‘multi-million pound private contracts’. But a Virgin Care spokesperson stated that the company have yet to make a profit.
The 400 contracts won by Virgin Care include a three year contract to run a GP surgery in Bedfordshire worth £509,000, a £700m contract to run 200 health and social care services in Bath and North East Somerset, which was awarded in November 2016, and a contract to run GP surgeries in Essex.
In 2016, Pulse reported Virgin Care won a £17m per year contract for delivering adult community health services in NHS Guildford and Waverley CCG and also clinched contracts worth £65m to provide urgent care services in West Lancashire.
Meanwhile, 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.
BMA consultants committee chair, Dr Robert Harwood, said he had ‘concerns’ about increasing the role of independent providers in the NHS and the impact it would have on services.
Dr Harwood said: ‘We firmly believe that the NHS should be publicly funded and publicly provided, and that ultimately the introduction of a competitive procurement framework has been, and will continue to be, detrimental to the health service.’
He added: ‘At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressure, it is vital that taxpayers money is used to support overstretched NHS services to provide high-quality, safe care to patients, not to fund multi-million pound private contracts.’
However, a Virgin Care spokesperson said the company had not made a profit to date, and were ‘investing all money in delivering and improving the services we run’.
They added: ‘For more than 10 years we have been supporting the NHS and local authorities to deliver health and care services. In that time we have saved the taxpayer millions and delivered the plans asked for by the NHS – 93% of people rating our services say they’d recommend them.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said that private sector spending by the NHS ‘remains proportionally low’ as spending on the NHS has increased.
The spokesperson said: ‘We remain clear that the NHS will remain free at the point of use both now and in the future. Any decisions about the use of the private sector are taken by local doctors who know their patients best.’
However, a 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