Legal challenge launched against £126m Virgin Care contract (HSJ: 25 February 2016)

A formal legal challenge has been made to commissioners who awarded a private sector company a £126m community care contract.

Kent Community Health Foundation Trust started proceedings at the High Court on Friday, HSJ can reveal.

Kent Community Health has started proceedings at the High Court

The challenge is to Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group and Swale CCG, who awarded the seven year contract to Virgin Care.

Last week’s challenge triggers an automatic suspension of the awarding of the contract until the case is settled or discontinued.

Kent Community Health made its bid in alliance with Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust, and Virgin’s offer also beat one from Dartford and Gravesham Trust...read more

 

Private sector gets boost from mental health commissioning freeze (HSJ: 17 February 2016)

NHS England’s moratorium on commissioning new specialised mental health services helped deliver new demand and a return to real terms growth for independent providers, according to new research. Market analysts LaingBuisson’s report, shared exclusively with HSJ, also says moving away from block contracts could help open up the mental health sector to more independent providers.

The analysis says independent providers of mental health beds are “enjoying robust demand” with growth back up to an average of 4 per cent a year in the last three years, although profitability has been affected by austerity measures since 2008.

NHS demand for private sector beds, which LaingBuisson estimates accounts for 87 per cent of independent mental health care providers’ revenue, is subject to “ebb and flow” as NHS commissioners turn to private sector beds to meet capacity shortfalls.

The report says: “The demand ‘tide’ has been flowing in favour of independent mental health hospitals in the last few years essentially because of constraints on NHS in-house capacity as a result of an NHS England moratorium on commissioning of new capacity (for centrally commissioned specialised services).” ...read more

 

US firms look to capitalise as NHS becomes increasingly privatised (The Guardian: 8 February 2016)

The patriotically named Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) has seen a big opportunity in working with the NHS since 2006. The company has formed what it calls HCA NHS Ventures, which are partnerships with NHS trusts to provide clinics and hospitals. Though a part of the NHS, these facilities serve only private patients.

HCA has built several state-of-the-art cancer facilities through the partnership such as Harley Street at University College hospital and the Christie clinic. While real estate selling points are normally not part of NHS treatment, Harley Street at University College London boasts that the cancer ward offers “stunning panoramic views across London”. The company also has a number of strictly private hospitals in London, such as the Princess Grace hospital and the Portland hospital. 

HCA, with a market capitalisation of more than $28bn, is known as one of the biggest healthcare facility companies in the US. The company’s UK arm is part of the Private Hospitals Alliance, a lobbying group that supports the role of private company participation in NHS services.

Instead of directly partnering with the NHS, some US companies have entered the UK through acquisitions, hoping to build relationships through existing British companies....read more

 

Call time on the failed NHS privatisation experiment (The Guardian: 8 February 2016)

NHS privatisation in England has increased dramatically since the Health and Social Care Act was passed in 2012. The most recent official figures show that in 2013-14 the NHS paid £6.6bn to private healthcare firms – the equivalent of £18m a day. But despite this huge outlay, there is still no evidence that the private sector is any better, more efficient or cost effective.

Indeed, there have been some spectacular contract failures – Circle at Hinchingbrooke hospital, Serco with Suffolk’s community services, and Arriva and the North West Ambulance Service to name but a few.

With more demands on the NHS, the health service needs stability, and its increasingly stretched health workers need security. They don’t need to be worrying about their pay or their pension being eroded by private equity speculators, or indeed whether they’ll still have a job if the contract fails.

We also have the disturbing situation where many of the 200-plus bodies in England that plan, source and oversee healthcare in their local areas are seeking advice from the very organisations that stand to profit hugely from outsourcing. It’s hardly surprising that these clinical commissioning groups are increasingly awarding contracts outside the NHS...read more

 

Surge in privatisation threatening free NHS treatment, unions say (The Guardian: 8 February 2016)

Trade Unions representing half a million NHS workers have warned that a “surge in privatisation” of the health service risks creating a system based on ability to pay, rather than need. 

In a strongly worded statement, leaders of the major health unions representing staff across the NHS said the growing involvement of private companies threatened one of its core functions: the provision of free treatment based on need.

“There is a real danger that if we continue down this road we could end up with a repeat of the American experience where income, rather than need, dictates the level of care a patient can expect,” said the nine leaders of NHS staff, including midwives, nurses and radiographers.

The warning comes as updated figures show the scale of private-sector involvement in the health service since the government’s unpopular shakeup of the English NHS under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Contracts monitored by the NHS Support Federation campaign group show that private firms have won £5.5bn worth of NHS clinical contracts since April 2013 – more than a third of the total value of contracts put out to tender. So far this year, private companies have won 37% of the £6bn worth of clinical contracts awarded. Others worth £5bn remain in the pipeline...read more

 

Loser of £126m tender challenges commissioners (HSJ: 4 February 2016)

Kent Community Health Foundation Trust submitted a bid for the services last year but was beaten by Virgin Care.

The new community services contract begins on 1 April

The seven year contract was tendered by Swale and Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley clinical commissioning groups last year and announced last month.

The trust made its bid in alliance with Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust. Virgin’s bid also beat Dartford and Gravesham Trust.

Kent Community Health’s acting chief executive, Lesley Strong, told HSJ her organisation was “asking for clarification on a number of issues including how they evaluated Virgin’s mobilisation plan, which is a critical element of the tender scoring”...read more

 

Virgin Care wins Kent community contract (HSJ: 14 January 2016)

Virgin Care has won a contract to provide adult community health services across a swathe of north Kent.

The company won the £18m a year contract covering Dartford, Gravesham, Swanley and Swale. The current provider, Kent Community Health Foundation Trust, has said it scored ”slightly higher” on quality in the assessment process and indicated it lost on price grounds...read more

 

Care UK wins prison healthcare contract in capital (Nursing Times: 7 January 2016)

Independent provider Care UK has won a five-year contract for healthcare services at Wormwood Scrubs prison in West London. The firm will provide primary care, dentistry, optometry, physiotherapy and podiatry services.Meanwhile, mental health services will be subcontracted to Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust.

The contract was previously held by Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust with mental health services subcontracted to Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. The contract begins in April and was awarded by NHS England in December. It will be worth £112m if a two-year option to extend the five-year contract is agreed.

 

Dr Foster consortium wins major commissioning support deal (HSJ: 8 December 2015)

A private consortium has won a major contract to supply support services to a large group of clinical commissioning groups in the north of England.

The eMBED Health Consortium will provide the full range of “end to end” support services to 23 CCGs in Yorkshire and the Humber. The contract goes live in March 2016. The consortium is made up of: Kier (formerly Mouchel); BDO; Engine; and Dr Foster. 

As well as eMBED’s end to end contract win, North of England Commissioning Support won two smaller lots to provide support for medicines management and continuing healthcare. The contract value for eMBED is £62m over four years, or just over £15m a year. North of England Commissioning Support will be paid a further £5.7m over three years.

Yorkshire and Humber Commissioning Support Unit will close at the end of March

 

Winners of five Midlands commissioning support contracts named (HSJ: 8 December 2015)

Seven West Midlands clinical commissioning groups have awarded commissioning support contracts to two providers in a deal worth £54m

Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit has been awarded contracts for providing the CCGs with business intelligence, IT and medicines management services.

Midlands and Lancashire CSU won the contracts for providing business intelligence and IT services

Arden and Greater East Midlands CSU has won contracts to provide “end to end” commissioning support services, and to oversee continuing healthcare and individual funding requests.

The deal, worth £54m over four years, is the third successful tender process to be completed through NHS England’s lead provider framework.

The CCGs which awarded the contracts are: Birmingham CrossCity; Birmingham South and Central; Dudley; Sandwell and West Birmingham; Solihull; Walsall; and Wolverhampton. The two CSUs will begin providing the services in April.

Arden and Greater East Midlands CSU’s contract to deliver end to end commissioning support involves providing a suite of services including finance, contracting, information governance, human resources and procurement.

Not all of the CCGs will buy all the end to end services, but will contract with the CSU on an individual basis. Midlands and Lancashire CSU, which currently supplies the full range of support services to the seven CCGs, will provide business intelligence to them on a single contract.

 

Private provider wins South West children’s health contract (Nursing Times: 11 November 2015)

Virgin Care has won a £64m contract to be the single provider of community child health services in Wiltshire. The private health company will take over delivery of the services from three NHS trusts, a social enterprise and a borough council. Community child health services in Wiltshire include children’s specialist community nursing, health visiting and speech and language therapy...read more

 

Privatisation of NHS in Wiltshire set to continue as firms bid for adult community services (The Salisbury Journal: 9 November 2015)

Care UK wins five-year prison contract (InsiderMedia: 18 June 2015)

Controversial American health firm handed NHS contract (The Mirror: 3 September 2013) 

NHS patients to be treated by Virgin Care in £500m deal (The Telegraph: 30 March 2012)

 

 
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