|Industry||Health care, Social care|
Virgin Care is a private provider of services to the National Health Service in England. It owns 24 GP-led provider companies that provide NHS services through networks of GP surgeries; and community-based NHS services.
The company was known as Assura Medical from March 2010 until March 2012. It originated as a division of Assura Group and a majority share was purchased by Virgin Group in 2010, setting it up as a separate company. Until October 2012 each GP provider company was 50% owned by the surgery GPs and 50% by Virgin; each GP provider company was run by a board consisting of locally elected GPs and one Virgin representative. 358 surgeries were listed as being involved in mid-2012. In October 2012 the company announced that it would be taking over all jointly owned GP-provider companies, in order to avoid any conflict of interest arising in respect of contracts with clinical commissioning groups.
Virgin Care has a contract to provide community health services in Surrey from 2012 until 2017. This includes the Jarvis Breast Centre in Guildford, which in October 2014 was subject to an investigation by North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group after 35 patients were not tested within two weeks of their GP referrals during April and July.
The company won a seven-year contract worth £270 million for providing long-term and elderly care for about 38,000 people with long term health conditions in East Staffordshire in March 2015 which was canceled on |2 October 2018 after an 18 months long dispute.
Community services in part of Kent, previously provided by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust were transferred to Virgin Care by Swale CCG and Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG in January 2016 in a contract for £18 million a year for the next seven years from April 2016 with an option to extend by a further three years.
It won a seven-year prime provider contract to run health services in Bath and North East Somerset in 2016. The company will be running adult social work services, something that has not been done by a commercial organisation in the UK before. 43 social workers were transferred to the company, which employed a “senior social work expert”, one of several to be appointed to provide “professional support”. The service experienced significant IT issues during their first three months of operation which resulted in the cancellation of patient appointments, correspondence not being sent out and problems with updating patient records.
At the start of 2016 the company was said to have nearly 330 NHS contracts. According to the reports, In January 2018, Virgin Care won £1bn worth of NHS contracts in one year.
2012 legal challenge
In October 2012, a mother of two children mounted a challenge in the High Court against Devon County Council's decision to award health and social care contracts to Virgin Care. The court allowed Virgin Care to keep the contract.
2017 lawsuit against the NHS
In early 2017, Virgin Care began legal proceedings against NHS England, Surrey County Council and the county's six clinical commissioning groups. They took this action because they failed to procure an £82 million children’s community services contract, a decision which Virgin Care claimed was "not in the best interests of the children and families [they] support".
The lawsuit was settled out of court with a £328,000 payout to Virgin Care, resulting in some controversy. This included a petition signed by over 100,000 people addressed to Richard Branson and Virgin Care, demanding that they "return the NHS’s money, and never sue the NHS again", as well as criticism in Parliament from Shadow Health Secretary Jonathon Ashworth, who claimed that the NHS is already "underfunded" without having to make payments to private health companies.
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- Alex Turner (26 April 2017). "Social workers transferred to Virgin Care under landmark deal". Community Care. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
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- Chris Morris (14 March 2017). "Virgin Care to Sue NHS Over Children's Community Services Contract". Healthcare Times. Derby. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
- Isabel Dobinson (8 December 2017). "'The NHS is under severe financial pressure, it cannot afford to lose this money': Nearly 50,000 people urge Virgin Care to return £328,000 Surrey contract dispute payout". getSurrey. Surrey. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
- Benjamin Jenkins (19 December 2012). ""Jeremy Hunt must fix this scandal – the £100m for Virgin's coffers should go to NHS Patient care." Jonathan Ashworth". The London Economic. London. Retrieved 14 November 2018.