Virgin Care has been identified as the preferred bidder for the delivery of 0-19 public health services in Lancashire after a legal challenge forced a reevaluation of the bid.
The county council awarded the contract to Virgin Care in November 2017. However, a legal challenge from Lancashire Care and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS foundation trusts (LCFT and BTHT respectively) led to a re-run of the procurement process.
The new process, re-run with a new independent panel of senior experts, saw Virgin Care’s bid score more highly than the joint bid made by LCFT and BTHT, who currently provide the services.
The contract award decision is now subject to a 10 day standstill period, which is a legal process required under EU procurement law.
The existing contract will continue to be run by LCFT and BTHT until the end of March next year, ensuring no disruption to services should the appointment of Virgin Care be confirmed after the end of the standstill period.
Cllr Shaun Turner, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: ‘Virgin Care has now been selected as preferred bidder to provide a range of new public health services for children aged 0 to 19 after the conclusion of this procurement process.’
‘This contract will ensure there is a consistent range of 0 to 19 services across the whole county, available to all, with additional support for those who most need it,’ he continued.
‘Our aim has always been to help narrow the gap in health between different groups and communities, while integrating more closely with other children's and family services.
‘We know this is an unsettling period for staff and once the standstill period has been completed they will be fully informed about the next steps.’
In June this year, Virgin Care reached an out-of-court settlement worth £2m after an £82m contract providing medical services for children in Surrey was awarded to NHS providers and a social enterprise.
Surrey CC paid out £440,000 while NHS England and six clinical commissioning groups paid a combined £1.6m. Another £243,000 was spent on legal fees.