Virgin threats net £2m from NHS in Surrey

Health & Social Care Act has authorised contract bullying

Virgin has taken a £2 million pay-off – at least – from six South West and North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Groups – money that many of Surrey’s most dependent and vulnerable patients will not see again. This is all happening in Jeremy Hunt’s own back garden – his constituency is SW Surrey.

In a callous, retaliatory response to losing the community children’s health services 3-year contract, which it held 2012-17, Virgin sends the playground bully’s message across the NHS: ‘Don’t mess with us – if you take contracts back we’ll make you pay’. The underlying message is clear: Virgin’s priority is to put their finances before patients and NHS front line care.

Lead commissioner, Guildford & Waverley CCG and Virgin Care said jointly that ‘an agreed resolution on the litigation concerning the Surrey children’s procurement has been reached to a satisfactory conclusion for all parties’. (HSJ)

The HSJ uncovered the partial truth on the size of the pay-out: one of the six CCGs involved, NHS Surrey Downs CCG, published their liability of £328,000. The detail in their finance paper has since been removed from its website after HSJ’s enquiries about the settlement.

We have discovered through an NHS England source that the total payment is £2million. It looks like very close to the sum of six shared contributions from the sued CCGs – plus or minus legal costs. This money is desperately needed for NHS front line care and should not be bolstering Richard Branson’s bottom line.

Dr Tony O’Sullivan, retired Consultant Paediatrician and Co-chair of Keep our NHS Public says:

I worked throughout my whole consultant career with disabled children and children who
needed to be protected – looked after by the local authority and safeguarded.
I find it distasteful that a private company, whose aim is commercial success, is in charge of running services for our most precious and vulnerable children. Virgin have done so for five years in Surrey. This type of bully-boy legal intimidation lies very uneasily alongside Virgin’s attempt to hide behind the caring NHS logo and purport to be putting children first.

Dr Jacky Davis, Consultant Radiologist and co-author of NHS for Sale says:

The NHS is already starved of cash, and it is a scandal that Virgin is prepared to take scarce money away from front line NHS patient care. This exposes Virgin for what they really are – a predatory company that cares more about profits than patients. Other CCGs will now be afraid to bring NHS contracts back into the NHS. The message from Virgin to the NHS is very clear – don’t take NHS contracts back. Don’t mess with us, it will cost you plenty.

On Virgin Care

Since Richard Branson set up Virgin Care in 2010, it has become a major player in the market for NHS services (NHS Support Federation) – a significant loss leader ploy to gain foothold, and as yet not making declared profit. Over seven years Virgin has won well over £2 billion of NHS ‘business’ – several large contracts in community health.  Virgin Care is the most active private company in the area of NHS community health contracts and since 2016, it is moving into adult social care. The owner-beneficiaries of Virgin Care and Virgin Group Holdings Ltd are Branson and his family in the British Virgin Islands, where entities registered there pay no tax. His empire lives off the Virgin name for numerous businesses in which he may often only have a minor residual stake.

On Keep Our NHS Public

Keep our NHS Public is the largest national health campaigning organisation with 75 branches around the UK. Nearly £10 billion of NHS clinical contracts are now being run by private companies, a growing trend since 2010. The Health and Social Care Act in 2012 unfortunately provided the legislation making the tendering of swathes of NHS services compulsory. Companies like Virgin are making long-term plans within the NHS to eventually profit from ill-health.

As campaigners, we are deeply concerned about this outrageous legal situation with Virgin and the NHS in Surrey. How can a private company extort money like this from the NHS? And more worryingly, why should so much taxpayers’ public money be handed over to Virgin who are now based in the tax haven British Virgin Islands?

Media coverage and related information

Health Service Journal 27 November 2017. Commissioners settle with Virgin following contract dispute

Independent 29 November 2017

The Sun 30 November 2017. Bransons health firm wins high court battle with nhs

Daily Telegraph 28 November 2017. NHS pays out after Virgin threatens to sue after losing out on contract

Virgin Care signs contract for community services in Surrey Virgin website 2012

[This post has been updated 5.12.17]

13 Comments

  1. For many years, we have looked to Richard Branson as a champion for public good, alas, this is no longer our view. Virgin is a money making enterprise, that does not even pay UK tax. We are so sad.

  2. Meanwhile Wirral. CCG gives his GP partnership £2m a year despite his record on tax and business practice. Perhaps it’s a loss maker but he won’t care: once our NHS has collapsed at the hands of his friend Hunt he can buy up lucrative bits cheaply.

  3. Isn’t it time for the greedy Branson to have his knighthood taken away? This is just another example of a man who cares for nought but profit.Yes he does support charities but he should not take even more money off a severely overstretched NHS. Shame on you Branson.

  4. Absolutely disgusting. Jeremy Hunt obviously knows this has happened in his constituency but has turned a blind eye. To make matters even worse, no tax had been paid by Virgin. DESPICABLE.

  5. Shame on you, Branson. What good is another 2 million going to do you? Please let us hear about the good you do with your wealth so we can go back to admiring you.

  6. I worked as a doctor in community child health services for decades and saw the cut backs of the Thatcher years. We never had enough therapists to give children the support they needed. This latest is both CRUEL and Scandalous.

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