Virgin’s £128.4m community care takeover on hold as Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust mounts legal challenge
Virgin Care’s £128.4 million bid to take over adult community care for parts of Kent has been put on hold. Richard Branson’s private care group was to have taken over work at Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital and Sheppey Community Hospital on April 1 after being awarded a seven-year contract by health commissioners in January. But the current provider, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT), has launched a legal challenge in the High Court which has stopped contracts being signed.
It says it is concerned Virgin will be unable to deliver its services in time. Negotiations have stumbled over computer systems in the hospitals and the fate of staff who will not automatically transfer to Virgin Care. It is unclear what will happen to staff and patients after the April 1 deadline passes in four weeks’ time.
However, Swale council’s cabinet member for health, Cllr Ken Pugh (Con), said the NHS Swale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had confirmed to him that KCHFT has been told to continue to provide services until the situation is resolved “within the next few weeks”.
Lesley Strong, Acting Chief Executive for Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, explained: “We have been working with the CCG and Virgin Care during the past month on the transfer of services from April 1. We have been concerned that Virgin Care was awarded the contract on price over quality and as further information has become available, our concerns have increased.by