April 2 – A half a billion pounds contract for community services in Surrey has been handed to Richard Branson’s Virgin company, it has been announced. The deal covers two areas of the county, the south-west and the north-west, together with some county-wide services.
The deal is thought to be the largest “privatisation” yet in the NHS – and follows that Health and Social Care Act becoming law. However the contracting process has been under way since January last year using the previous NHS legislation – and was triggered by instructions that primary care trusts should cease involvement in providing services. It seems to involve moving the existing Surrey Community Health organisation into the ownership of Virgin Care, formerly Assura Medical.
The chief executive Alison Edgington said: “This is a really exciting move for this organisation which allows us to continue to deliver exciting and innovative NHS care to thousands of people across Surrey and beyond.
“At Surrey Community Health we have a huge and varied portfolio delivering excellent healthcare with services in everything from sexual health to physiotherapy and breast screening, wheelchair services and community hospitals; the list goes on.
“Virgin Care is an organisation which is known for providing excellent community services and has a track record of partnership working and innovation which is a great fit with the vision and values that Surrey Community Health has developed thus far.
“We know that this partnership will be hugely beneficial to healthcare in Surrey.”
But Dave Prentis, general secretary of the public sector Unison, said it was “more proof of the direction of travel for the NHS under the Coalition government, which is privatisation”.
He said: “The decision to award the contract to Virgin is ideological and it is inevitable that there will be cuts in order to ensure that shareholders get their dividends and it will inevitably be patients that will suffer.”
Source: Englemed Newsroom
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