Virgin Care has clinched contracts worth £65m to provide urgent care services – including out-of-hours GP services – and community services in one region of England.
The company will take over the five-year contracts for NHS community health services, worth £45m, and urgent care services, worth £20m, for West Lancashire on 1 April 2017.
The services include district nurses, community matrons, IV therapy, end of life teams, GP out of hours and walk-in centres.
In February 2016, NHS West Lancashire CCG announced that two private companies, Optum Health Solutions (UK) and Virgin Care Services, would go forward to compete to provide urgent care services.
The same two private companies were also in the running for the community health services contract, along with two NHS foundation trusts, Lancashire Care and Bridgewater Community Healthcare.
The current provider, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, was not shortlisted for the contracts. The trust was rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the CQC inspection on 15 November and received the same rating in April this year.
Claire Heneghan, chief nurse of NHS West Lancashire CCG, said: ‘The aim is to develop and enhance community and local walk-in and out of hours services, helping to prevent avoidable acute hospital attendance, relieving pressure on such a vital resource.’
Dr John Caine, chair of the CCG, added: ‘Through the bid Virgin Care demonstrated a true understanding of our vision and we are assured it will deliver a quality service for our local community within this new model of care.’
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Virgin Care said: ‘We look forward to continuing our engagement with the local community so we can provide a high quality service that has been shaped by the people who use it.’
However, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is angry about the decision to award the contracts to a private company.
In a statement on her website she said: ‘Now the contract has been awarded it is time for the CCG to open the books on this entire process. Time to show us exactly on what basis local GPs decided to privatise our services and damage our local hospital.’
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