Virgin Care secures three-year extension of healthcare services at BANES at a cost of £54m a year

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Ending a private company’s £54m-a-year health services contract for ideological reasons is not in the interests of residents during a global pandemic.

That was the view of the leaders of Bath and North East Somerset Council when they voted to keep Virgin Care for another three years and avoid a nearly £1million bill to seek a replacement that would be difficult to find.

Clinical commissioning group partners BANES, Swindon and Wiltshire have also agreed to extend the contract until 2027.

Read more: Virgin Care contract at BANES could be extended until 2027

Councilor Alison Born told her Cabinet colleagues on November 10: ‘Virgin Care has generally provided good service, most recently in very difficult circumstances and has worked constructively with health and service partners. social.

“This is a particularly challenging time for health and social care and services need to focus on reform and recovery from the pandemic.”

Virgin Care became the first private company to take over adult social services when it signed the deal in 2016. There are currently few providers with the experience to replace it.

Councilor Rob Appleyard told a review committee meeting that the contract award was “not universally accepted” and that there was “continued distrust” but “Covid was the bedrock of the relationship with Virgin Care”.

The company is said to be keen to secure the extension – which would get it £558m from the public purse over 10 years – and it could challenge the decision if the council and CCG refuse, according to a report to the cabinet.

Review committee chairman Vic Pritchard said: “It would be irresponsible of us not to extend this contract this time, as the amount of bureaucracy to engage another partner would be enormous. It would be an unnecessary cost.

A tender would cost around £965,000.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Councilor Dine Romero said: ‘You might have an ideological aversion to a private company being part of the delivery of healthcare, but locally I would like to highlight how much Virgin Care has really taken the lead during the pandemic.

“Now is not the time to make extreme changes simply on a point of principle. Now is the time to focus on supporting our communities and those working in those communities to deliver the best in this time. very difficult for our residents.

BSW CCG held an extraordinary meeting of the governing body to consider the extension.

Chief operating officer Corinne Edwards told colleagues that Virgin Care has supported patients during the pandemic and owes them gratitude and stability.

She said the company recognizes that improvements are needed and is committed to meeting those expectations.

Chief executive Tracey Cox said the threat of potentially losing a contract spurred all suppliers to do a good job.

The GCC and the firm have both agreed to extend the Virgin Care contract until 2027.

The option to extend the contract can only be taken once.

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