Pfizer gives life-extending breast cancer drug to NHS for free (The Independent: 5 May 2017)

It is estimated that around 6,000 patients across the UK would be eligible for palbociclib each year

A “ground breaking” drug to treat breast cancer is set to be made available to thousands of NHS patients across the UK for free, thanks to manufacturer Pfizer.

In February, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which decides whether new treatments should be available on the NHS in England, provisionally rejected palbociclib for routine use because it believed it was too expensive for the benefits it provided.

But now Pfizer has said it will provide the drug free of charge for up to five months until a final decision is made by Nice.

It is estimated that around 6,000 patients across the UK would be eligible to receive palbociclib each year. The drug prolongs life by an average of 10 months in comparison with existing treatments and has been hailed by oncologists as one of the most important advances in this field for the past 20 more


Biggest ever NHS tender launched as £6bn contract put on market (The HSJ, 7 April 2017)

Manchester health leaders have kicked off the search for providers of “out of hospital” health and care services across the city under a contract worth nearly £6bn – the largest ever NHS services tender.

A tender document, published by NHS Shared Business Services, sets out for the first time the contract value and other details of the ambitious plan to set up a “local care organisation” to provide all non-acute services – including social care – across the city.

The LCO will hold a single 10 year contract to provide services for a population of around 600,000 across the city – but not the entire Greater Manchester devolution region. The contract will be let by Manchester Health and Care Commissioning, a partnership between the city council and a newly formed single clinical commissioning group.

The notice, which calls for expressions of interest by the end of April, said: “Commissioners seek responses from interested providers who wish to deliver… a local care organisation for the population of Manchester with the aim of bringing together a range of health, social care and public health services to be delivered in the community.”

“The LCO is envisaged [to have] an emphasis upon: local population health and prevention of ill health; connecting to community assets and building upon people’s strengths and self-management skills; and targeted care support people’s needs particularly as needs change and become more complex. The estimated total contract value for the 10 year contract term is £5.9bn.”....Read more


Circle contract win means trust 'risks going in special measures' (HSJ: 14 March 2017)

Lewisham and Greenwich Trust stands to lose up to £6.6m of revenue over five years unless Circle Health, the winner of a musculoskeletal contract for Greenwich, contracts it to deliver community based services and “other orthopaedic activity”, the PwC report said.

The report also highlighted possible risks to the safety of care if Circle subcontracts MSK services currently provided by Lewisham and Greenwich to another provider.

The London trust already has a forecast deficit of £34.6m for 2016-17, which puts the trust’s finances £14.4m behind plan, the PwC study said.

The loss of £1.6m of income in the first year of the contract could “add additional financial pressures to the trust”, and lead to “potential intervention, for example being placed into the financial special measure regime”, the report more


Private NHS contractor set to take over county’s out of hours service (Stroud News and Journal: 2 February 2017)

Out of Hours services for patients in Gloucestershire are set to be taken over by a private healthcare company for the first time.

Care UK is poised to take over provision of the primary care service from the publicly funded South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

Due to tightening budgets the NHS Trust announced last autumn it would be forced to terminate its contract early to focus efforts on the provision of 999/emergency care.

The “interim” deal with Care UK was made after a competitive tender and evaluation process by the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The privately contractor, which is Britain’s biggest provider of out-of-hours services, will take over on a short-term 10 month contract from June 1, 2017.

Health chiefs in the county say the deal will help ensure high quality and safety for patients during the interim and have promised a seamless transition.

But NHS campaigners in Stroud have condemned the move as a damning indictment of the current trend of privatisation in local NHS more


NHS spends millions on private companies that block GP referrals, investigation finds (The Independent: 4 January 2017)

The NHS is spending millions on private companies that stop GPs referring patients to hospitals, an investigation has revealed.

Controversial "referral management centres" are supposed to cut costs and improve the quality of GP referrals – but three quarters of NHS bodies that told the British Medical Journal (BMJ) they used the schemes could not say whether they had saved money overall.

The centres can block or redirect GP referrals for procedures such as hip and knee replacements, treatment for allergies and cataract surgery to manage outpatient activity at local hospitals.

At least £57m has been paid out to them since April 2013, according to the 69 per cent of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) using the schemes which gave details of their operating costs.

Doctors expressed concern that paying third parties to screen GP referrals – around a third of which are run by private companies – was of questionable effectiveness.

“[CCGs] are leaping at these schemes without any clear evidence of benefit and that they’re just hopeful that it might reduce their costs,” Dr Richard Vautrey told the more


Outcry as Virgin Care gets £250m contract following claim children in Essex will be ‘guinea pigs’ for outsourcing (Essex Gazette: 20 December 2016)

Opposition councillors have criticised plans to treat children as “guinea pigs” by awarding a £250 million family support service contract to Virgin Care.

Essex County Council awarded the seven-year contract to Virgin Care, in partnership with Barnardo’s, to run family services across the county.

The contract, which starts in April, includes health, wellbeing and family support services from pre-birth to the age of 19 and will see the combination of existing services like the healthy child programme, healthy schools, family nurse partnership and children’s centres from April more


Staffordshire £1.2bn cancer contract given green light (BBC News: 26 November 2016)

A £1.2bn plan to outsource cancer and end-of-life care in Staffordshire has been given the go-ahead by NHS England.

The project, which has attracted considerable opposition, was put on hold in January after a similar contract in Cambridge was scrapped due to financial concerns.

A 10-year contract in Staffordshire is expected to be up and running by April.

Bidders are believed to include private companies Virgin Healthcare and Interserve.

The deal includes a £690m contract to run cancer care across four Staffordshire clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) - Stafford and Surrounds, Cannock Chase, Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.

The successful bidder will be asked to co-ordinate cancer care throughout the county - from diagnosis through to treatment and end-of-life care.

The CCGs have previously said the aim was to streamline services and "provide the best cancer and end-of-life care for patients".

However, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South Rob Flello, described it as an unpopular and dangerous project that could see a private provider take over NHS more


Virgin wins contracts worth £65m (HSJ: 23 November 2016)

Virgin Care has been awarded two five year contracts to provide community and urgent care services for a clinical commissioning group in Lancashire.

West Lancashire CCG launched a tender process for the services after the Care Quality Commission raised concerns about Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals Trust, the incumbent provider.

The community services contracts are worth £45m over five years

Private firm Optum, Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and Bridgewater Community Healthcare FT were also shortlisted for further discussions about the community services contract, which was previously advertised as being worth £45m over five years.

Optum and Virgin Care were the only bidders shortlisted for the urgent care services contract, including GP out of hours provision and a walk-in centre in Skelmersdale, for a contract worth around £20m over five years.

Virgin Care will start delivering the services in more


Government quietly privatises the NHS's in-house agency staff provider (The Independent: 19 November 2016)

The Government is to privatise the NHS’s in-house, publicly-owned provider of agency staff, ministers have announced.

NHS Professionals, the health service’s main staffing agency, provides 90,000 health workers to around a quarter of NHS trusts, covering two million shifts a year.

In a written statement issued on Thursday as most MPs headed back to their constituencies, the Government announced it would sell off a majority stake in the orgnaisation to the private sector with the aim of “creating a profitable business model”.

Labour says the sell-off amounts to further privatisation of a key part of the health service, while the Government claims the private sector will help provide new investment.

It is understood that the Government could invest public funds in the organisation directly through the Treasury but has chosen to use the private sector instead.

“Following market analysis and a thorough appraisal of a business case, the Department’s preferred option is to create a joint venture partnership to bring in the necessary investment and expertise to the business and give the Company greater operational autonomy,” health minister Philip Dunne said in the more


Landmark deal for private firm to run social work service approved (Community Care: 11 November 2016)

Virgin Care will run statutory adult social work services in Bath and North East Somerset from April 2017, in deal believed to be first of its type.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Care will run core adult social work services in Bath and North East Somerset after a £700m contract to reshape community health and social care services was approved last night.

The Conservative-controlled council voted 35-22 in favour of the deal. Earlier in the day the local NHS clinical commissioning group’s board voted unanimously in favour.

From April 2017, Virgin will run more than 200 services under the deal including three statutory services – adult social care, continuing healthcare and children’s community health. The deal marks the first time a privately-owned profit-making firm will deliver statutory adult social work functions.

Unlike in children’s services, there are no laws preventing councils from delegating statutory adult social work functions to profit-making providers.

But previous outsourcing deals by councils have only seen social work run by local authority-owned trading companies or not-for-profit social enterprises spun out of social services more


Hospital in £135million of debt hands £600MILLION contract to Serco (Mirror: 26 September 2016)

 A hospital trust which is £135million in debt has sparked fury by handing a whopping £600million contract to Serco.

Debt-ridden Barts Health NHS Trust is already in Financial Special Measures because of its alarming cash crisis.

Barts - which cares for 2.5million people in London - has the largest debt in the history of the NHS .

But it has triggered fresh concerns about its financial management by giving outsourcing giant Serco a 10-year contract to run its hospital facilities.

It is the biggest deal the company has won since more


Virgin Care preferred bidder for £69m community services contract (HSJ: 19 August 2016)

The seven year contract – with an option to extend for a further three years – is being jointly commissioned by Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Bath and North East Somerset Council.

It covers over 200 services currently delivered by more than 60 organisations including: health visiting; speech and language therapy; diabetes nurses; district nurses; the falls prevention team; the independent living service; physiotherapy and reablement services; and palliative care nurses.

Virgin Care was chosen ahead of a consortium led by the social enterprise Sirona Care and Health, which included Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust, Royal United Hospitals Bath Foundation Trust, Dorothy House Hospice Care, and the GP organisation Bath and North East Somerset Enhanced Medical Services.

The rationale for the contract is to integrate the disparate services. Virgin Care will act as a “prime provider”, directly delivering and coordinating services, but with the option to subcontract to other providers where more


Virgin Care bags major £700m health and care co-ordination deal (National Health Executive: 19 August 2016)

Virgin Care has been chosen as the preferred bidder to co-ordinate over 200 health and care services in Bath and North East Somerset as part of a major £700m contract.

According to NHS Bath and North East Somerset CCG, the deal is intended to strengthen health and care co-ordination in the region after several complaints from people who claim to “have difficulty finding their way” around the system.

The contract is worth £69.2m a year and will run for seven years, with the option to extend for a further three years, which the CCG and the local council say is in line with their current spending on community more


How much is the government really privatising the NHS? (The Guardian: 15 August 2016)

 The myriad different bodies that make up theNHS in England and their opaqueness, especially in terms of contracts to provide services, makes mapping the true extent of the privatisation of public healthcare difficult.

The available evidence bears out Owen Smith’s claim that NHS privatisation is increasing, but it is less of the “explosion” that the Labour leadership hopeful warns about and more of a gradual but inexorable, rise in the proportion of the NHS budget going to firms such as Virgin Care, Care UK and Bupa. It is also noteworthy that the private sector has been making ever bigger inroads into several key areas of NHS care, notably general practice, community services and mental health care.

Department of Health (DH) figures show that the amount of its funding that has gone to “independent sector providers” more than doubled from £4.1bn in 2009-10, Labour’s last year in power, to £8.7bn in 2015-16.

Slow-release privatisation has also seen the percentage of the DH budget finding its way into private hands rising from 4% in 2009-10 to 8% in the last financial year.

A few privatisation contracts involve huge sums. Several GP-led NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Staffordshire caused controversy in 2014-15 when they sought to hand 10-year contracts for cancer and end-of-life care worth £1.2bn to a private provider, though those plans have been held up after NHS England became more


16 CCGs launch integrated NHS 111 and urgent care services (HSJ: 3 August 2016)

Sixteen West Midlands clinical commissioning groups are set to mobilise a new integrated NHS 111, GP out of hours and urgent care service across a population of 4.6 million after awarding a set of contracts worth up to £172m.

In March 2016, Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, on behalf of the 16 CCGs, launched a procurement process for an integrated NHS 111 and out of hours GP services contract. Tender documents revealed the deal was worth between £86.4m and £172.1m, from July 2016 to July 2022. The CCGs have refused reveal the new combined contract value.

Care UK has been chosen to deliver NHS 111 and “clinical hub” services. Four providers have won new contracts for out of hours services in Birmingham South Central, Herefordshire, Sandwell and West Birmingham, and Rugby. The remaining areas have adapted existing out of hours contracts.

The deal is made up of two main elements: a single NHS 111 service for the entire patch, plus individual out of hours contracts for each CCG. An overarching alliance contract links the 111 service to out of hours, with the intention of making the services more integrated than they are at present.

The first element is intended to provide a single point of access through 111 services bringing together urgent care, GP out of hours services, ambulance services and social care. The alliance agreement between providers will allow for closer working between 111, out of hours and urgent care more


Virgin set to take over outstanding GP practice forced to close by £400,000 cuts (GP Online: 20 June 2016)

A GP practice in Essex rated outstanding by the CQC will be taken over next month by the private provider Virgin Care after £400,000 cuts to PMS funding forced existing partners to hand in their notice.

NHS England confirmed the private provider would take control of the Sutherland Lodge Surgery, in Chelmsford, from July.

GP leaders fear the takeover by a commercial provider could be the first of many, as hundreds of PMS practices face huge pressure from sharp reductions in contract funding.

The Essex practice is among the 35% of GP surgeries in England that operate under PMS contracts, which have faced cuts worth more than £200m under a national review process carried out over the past two more


CCGs win legal battle over Virgin community contract (HSJ: 1 June 2016)

COMMERCIAL: Kent clinical commissioning groups have won a legal bid to lift the suspension of a contract they awarded to Virgin Care.

Swale CCG and Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG awarded a £127m community services contract to the private firm in January.

However, the move was challenged by incumbent provider Kent Community Health Foundation Trust. It argued the assessment process was flawed and that transferring the work to Virgin Care would cause legal, IT and human resources problems which would affect patient care.

The High Court in February suspended the award of the contract until the trust’s legal case had been made.

The CCGs applied to challenge this earlier this month, and on Friday the court lifted the more


London CCGs award urgent primary care contract (HSJ: 31 May 2016)

Six south west London clinical commissioning groups have awarded an integrated urgent care contract - combining NHS 111 and out of hours services across several boroughs - to South London Doctors Urgent Care (SLDUC).

The six CCGs involved are Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth. All six have procured NHS 111 services from the provider but only Kingston, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth CCGs have procured an out of hours GP service.

SLDUC will run services for three years from October 2016, with the option to extend for a further two years. HSJ understands NHS 111 services will be run from one clinical hub in Norbiton, while a second hub will provide GP out of hours care across Kingston, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth.

South London Doctors Urgent Care is a partnership between Vocare and South East London Doctors Co-operative (SELDOC). Vocare is an established provider of NHS 111 services nationally, while SELDOC manages the existing GP OOH contract for Sutton CCG, as well as contracts across south east more


Virgin and Optum shortlisted for contracts worth £65m (HSJ: 7 March 2016)

Two private companies have been shortlisted in a procurement process for community and urgent care services in Lancashire.

West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group launched the tender after the Care Quality Commission raised concerns about services run by Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals Trust.

Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals has run the community services since 2010

The trust has not been shortlisted and said this was a “very disappointing decision”.

The CCG has invited Optum, Virgin Care, Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and Bridgewater Community Healthcare for further discussions about the community services contract, worth £45m over five years.

Optum and Virgin Care have also been shortlisted in the bidding process for some urgent care services, including GP out of hours provision and a walk-in centre in Skelmersdale. This deal will be worth £20m over five more


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 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).” 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 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 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 theNHS 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 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” 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 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.


Archive of Non-NHS contract award stories 

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