William Eichler 15 August 2018

Council agrees to re-evaluate health service procurement process

Lancashire County Council has agreed to re-evaluate its tendering process for public health services after a court ordered the council to set aside its agreement with Virgin Care.

The county council awarded a contract to Virgin Care to deliver public health services for 0 to 19 year olds.

However, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust (LCFT) and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHT), which currently run the service, launched a legal challenge questioning the procurement process.

The High Court ordered the council to set aside the decision after raising issues with record keeping during the moderation element of the process.

The scoring and moderation stages will now be re-run with a new independent panel, which will make the decision over who will be awarded the contract.

Lancashire has also agreed to pay an estimated £200,000 towards the health trusts' costs for the legal challenge.

Cllr Shaun Turner, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, commented: ‘We will now be able to move forward to finalise this procurement process and we have also agreed to pay 75% of the trusts' legal costs for this case, which will mean we do not have to go back to court.

‘Where services such as the 0-19 public health services are not being delivered in house, we are under a legal duty to open them up to competition; and the decision to do so in this case was in no way political.

The existing contract with LCFT and BTHT does not expire until March 2019 so the public can be reassured that there will be no disruption to these important services.

‘Health visitors and school nurses all do a fantastic job and we will continue to support them in any way we can to ensure children and families continue to receive a good service.’

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