Private provider Virgin Care has been awarded two five-year contracts to provide community and urgent care services for a clinical commissioning group in Lancashire.
Virgin Care will start delivering the services in April, taking over from their current provider Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals NHS Trust.
“Virgin Care demonstrated a true understanding of our vision”
West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group launched a tender process for the services after the Care Quality Commission raised concerns about Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals.
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and another private firm Optum 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.
“This process is about transforming care locally and is a major positive step forward”
In a statement announcing the deal, the CCG said that engagement with the local community and clinical staff had revealed “several views about the current system” and, as a result, it was “striving to make improvements through this procurement”.
Its vision for joined up care – Building for the Future – aims to help everyone, especially older patients and those with long-term conditions be in ”more control of their own health, have better access to health services and receive co-ordinated support tailored to their own personal needs”, said the CCG.
Claire Heneghan, chief nurse of West Lancashire CCG, said: “This process is about transforming care locally and is a major positive step forward for West Lancashire. The aim is to develop and enhance community and local walk-in and out of hour’s services, helping to prevent avoidable acute hospital attendance, relieving pressure on such a vital resource.
Virgin wins Lancashire community and urgent care contract
“We will continue to enable and support the local hospital to do what it does best, in addressing the needs of those residents who need acute and specialist care,” she said. “Our local hospital will continue to be a major part of local health services and will remain integral as we move towards achieving our vision for joined up care”.
John Caine, chair of West Lancashire CCG, added: “Through the bid, Virgin Care demonstrated a true understanding of our vision and we are assured it will deliver a quality service for our local community within this new model of care.
“Virgin Care will now work closely with the existing provider, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, in the run up to delivering the services from 1 April 2017,” he said. “The CCG and Virgin Care will also be talking to the local community about their plans and welcoming views during this next phase of the process.
“Although this is a change in the provider, patients will still receive safe, quality treatment and care during this period of transition,” she added.
Neighbouring Southport and Formby Clincial Commissioning Group has also recently tendered its community services, which were also run by Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust. This contract has been awarded to Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust.
The loss of the contracts could signal a significant change in direction for Southport and Ormskirk, which will also be subject to a “major services review” as part of the regional sustainability and transformation plan.