VIRGIN HEALTH CONTRACT: Union blasts 'terrible decision'

Lancashire County Council was involved in a High Court case over the Virgin contract
Lancashire County Council was involved in a High Court case over the Virgin contract

The public sector workers union has blasted as a 'terrible decision' the announcement that a £104m contract for healthcare services in Lancashire has been awarded to private firm Virgin.

Lancashire County Council announced this morning that Virgin Care Services Ltd had been selected as the preferred bidder for the contract, which includes providing health visitors and school nurses in the county.

READ MORE: £104m contract awarded to Virgin for second time
The contract was originally awarded in November last year, but has been the subject of a High Court challenge, after which the council was ordered to re-run the process.

After the revised procurement process, the council announced that Virgin had again been selected.

James Rupa, Unison North West Regional Organiser said: “The council has made a terrible decision.

“At a time when other councils are trying to work more closely with local NHS organisations, Lancashire County Council has chosen to shift over £100m of public money from the local NHS to Virgin. This decision will destabilise the local NHS in Lancashire, making it harder for them to provide a full range of health services.

“The recent collapse of Carillion has shown how private companies cannot be trusted to provide quality public services. The gap between Virgin’s bid and the NHS bid was only 0.07 per cent, so the council does not even stand to save a significant amount of money.

“Privatising the delivery of key NHS services will be unpopular with the public and the Council should consider whether it has a democratic mandate for this controversial move. This is a decision taken by a discredited Tory Council, on the basis of a discredited privatisation ideology.

“We will support and protect our members through this difficult time and we will be working to ensure that these services are returned to the NHS at the earliest possible opportunity.”