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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Virgin Care
IndustryHealth care, Social care
FoundedMarch 2010
HeadquartersUnited Kingdom
OwnerVirgin Group Edit this at Wikidata

Virgin Care is a private provider of publicly funded community health and social services, and has been commissioned by the National Health Service and Local Authorities in England since 2010 (when it was known as Assura Medical).


The company was known as Assura Medical from March 2010 until March 2012. It originated as a division of Assura Group and a majority share was purchased by Virgin Group in 2010, setting it up as a separate company.[1]

Until October 2012 each GP provider company was 50% owned by the surgery GPs and 50% by Virgin; each GP provider company was run by a board consisting of locally elected GPs and one Virgin representative. 358 surgeries were listed as being involved in mid-2012.

In October 2012 the company announced that it would be taking over all jointly owned GP-provider companies, in order to avoid any conflict of interest arising in respect of contracts with clinical commissioning groups.[2]

Following this change, the company has bid for contracts put out by these clinical commissioning groups, NHS England and local authorities and has contracts stretching for more than a decade to a total potential value of £2bn.[3]


The company claims to never have made a profit overall from its NHS services,[4] and that it has invested its own money into the business, although accounts show that individual parts of the Group with NHS contracts have made profits.[5]

Sir Richard Branson wrote in January 2018:[6]

Over the last 50 years, I have been fortunate to build many successful companies and do not want or intend to profit personally from the NHS. Indeed, I have invested millions in Virgin Care to help it transform its services for the better and to improve both the patient and employee experience. Contrary to reports, the Virgin Care group has not made a profit to date. If and when I could take a dividend from Virgin Care (which would make us a profit over and above our overall investment), I will invest 100% of that money back into helping NHS patients young and old, with our frontline employees deciding how best to spend it.

Former Contracts

Lyme Regis Medical Practice

In 2012, Virgin Care won a contract to provide services in Dorset, at the Lyme Regis Centre, for five years.[7] When the service was inspected by the regulator in August 2015, the Minor Injuries unit was found “not safe” by the Care Quality Commission because “patients were at risk of harm because systems and processes were not in place to keep them safe”. Inspectors returned in February 2016 and found improvements, and again in August 2016 when a ‘desk based’ inspection based on information the company provided was deemed sufficient to rate the practice ‘good’ in all areas. The service was eventually rated ‘good’ again by the CQC in October 2018, but inspectors again said it needed to do more and rated it ‘requires improvement’ for services for people with long term conditions.[8] This contract ended in 2019 after a short extension, as the NHS merged it with another local GP practice.[9]

Virgin Care ran the Urgent Care Centre at Croydon University Hospital under a £6 million contract for three years that started from April 2012.[10]

Current Contracts


Virgin Care won a contract to provide community health services in Surrey from 2012 until 2017.[11] This includes the Jarvis Breast Centre in Guildford, which in October 2014 was subject to an investigation by North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group after 35 patients were not tested within two weeks of their GP referrals during April and July.[12] In 2017, Surrey's CCGs split the contract again and procured elements of it separately with Virgin Care being awarded some adult community services in the Surrey Heath CCG and North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG areas as well as continuing to operate Community Dental Services and Wheelchair Services.[13]

In September 2019, the company was awarded an £85m contract to run a joint project with Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey.[14][15][16]

Bath and North East Somerset

It won a seven-year prime provider contract to run health services in Bath and North East Somerset in 2016.[17][18] The company will be running adult social work services, something that has not been done by a commercial organisation in the UK before. Forty-three social workers were transferred to the company, which employed a “senior social work expert”, one of several to be appointed to provide “professional support”.[19] The service experienced significant IT issues during their first three months of operation which resulted in the cancellation of patient appointments, correspondence not being sent out and problems with updating patient records.[20]

East Staffordshire

The company won a seven-year contract worth £270 million for providing long-term and elderly care for about 38,000 people with long-term health conditions in East Staffordshire in March 2015 which was cancelled on |2 October 2018 after an 18 months long dispute.[21]


Community services in part of Kent, previously provided by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust were transferred to Virgin Care by Swale CCG and Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG in January 2016 in a contract for £18 million a year for the next seven years from April 2016 with an option to extend by a further three years.[22]

Lancashire County Council

Lancashire County Council (LCC) awarded Virgin Care a five-year £104m contract in 2017 to provide public health services for children aged 0 to 19.

Two Lancashire NHS Trusts that had jointly bid for the contract contested the decision on the grounds that LCC had not properly followed the procurement process, and the High Court overturned the decision. In 2018, after LCC had re-evaluated the bids, in a process overseen by an independent panel of experts, it again chose Virgin Care.

The decision was criticised by UNISON on the grounds that it would destabilise the NHS in Lancashire, that the gap between the two bids was only 0.07% and that the council was helping to privatise the delivery of key NHS services.[23]

2012 legal challenge

In October 2012, a mother of two children mounted a challenge in the High Court against Devon County Council's decision to award health and social care contracts to Virgin Care.[24] The court allowed Virgin Care to keep the contract.[25]

2017 lawsuit against the NHS

In early 2017, Virgin Care began legal proceedings against NHS England, Surrey County Council and the county's six clinical commissioning groups. They took this action after they failed to procure an £82 million children's community services contract, a decision which Virgin Care claimed was "not in the best interests of the children and families [they] support".[26]

The lawsuit was settled out of court with a £328,000 payout to Virgin Care, resulting in some controversy. This included a petition signed by over 100,000 people addressed to Richard Branson and Virgin Care, demanding that they "return the NHS’s money, and never sue the NHS again", as well as criticism in Parliament from Shadow Health Secretary Jonathon Ashworth, who claimed that the NHS is already "underfunded" without having to make payments to private health companies.[27][28]


  1. ^ "Our history". Virgin Care. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Virgin Care Ltd". NHS For Sale. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  3. ^ Osborne, Hilary (2018-08-05). "Virgin awarded almost £2bn of NHS contracts in the past five years". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  4. ^ "Why it's wrong to say we sued the NHS because we lost a contract in Surrey". Virgin Care. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  5. ^ Gallagher, Paul (2018-01-08). "Virgin Care Services: no corporation tax paid as profits from NHS contracts rise to £8m on £200m turnover". Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  6. ^ taniasteere (2018-01-12). "Virgin Care and supporting a free, efficient NHS". Virgin. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  7. ^ "Virgin Care wins medical centre contract". Health Service Journal. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Lyme Regis Medical Centre". Retrieved 2019-09-29.
  9. ^ "The care provider contract for this medical centre is set to end in January". Dorset Echo. Retrieved 2019-09-29.
  10. ^ "Watchdog demands urgent meeting with Virgin over Mayday". 21 November 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Virgin Care". North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group. Archived from the original on 7 September 2014.
  12. ^ Sophie Barnes (27 October 2014). "Virgin clinic probed over 'large number' of waiting time breaches". Health Service Journal. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  13. ^ Moore2018-03-01T00:01:00+00:00, Alison. "Virgin agrees contract extension in Surrey". Health Service Journal. Retrieved 2019-09-29.
  14. ^ Clover2019-09-20T11:56:00+01:00, Ben. "Virgin Care and NHS partner win £85m contract". Health Service Journal. Retrieved 2019-09-29.
  15. ^ "Virgin Care wins £85m joint community services project with NHS Trust". Laing Buisson. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  16. ^ "New Adult Community Service contract goes live in Surrey". Virgin Care. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  17. ^ Amanda Cameron (10 November 2016). "Virgin Care wins £700m contract to run health services in Bath and North East Somerset". Bath Chronicle. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  18. ^ Ashley Cowburn (11 November 2016). "Controversial 'Virgin Care' contract approved". The Independent. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  19. ^ Alex Turner (26 April 2017). "Social workers transferred to Virgin Care under landmark deal". Community Care. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  20. ^ Amanda Cameron; Tristan Cork (6 October 2017). "Virgin Care 'asked staff not to report safety concerns' to health watchdog". Bristol Post. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  21. ^ Rebecca Thomas (31 March 2015). "Virgin Care terminates £270m prime provider role". Health Service Journal. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  22. ^ John Nurden (13 January 2016). "Virgin Care takes over Sheppey and Sittingbourne hospitals". Kent on line. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  23. ^ "Council strips contract from NHS trusts and hands it to Virgin after High Court row". National Health Executive. 18 October 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  24. ^ Diane Taylor (7 October 2012). "Mother challenges Virgin Care takeover of mental health service". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  25. ^ "Judge says Virgin Care award did not comply with law but refuses to halt process". Public Law Today. 19 October 2012.
  26. ^ Chris Morris (14 March 2017). "Virgin Care to Sue NHS Over Children's Community Services Contract". Healthcare Times. Derby. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  27. ^ Isabel Dobinson (8 December 2017). "'The NHS is under severe financial pressure, it cannot afford to lose this money': Nearly 50,000 people urge Virgin Care to return £328,000 Surrey contract dispute payout". getSurrey. Surrey. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  28. ^ Benjamin Jenkins (19 December 2012). ""Jeremy Hunt must fix this scandal – the £100m for Virgin's coffers should go to NHS Patient care." Jonathan Ashworth". The London Economic. London. Retrieved 14 November 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 31 August 2020, at 20:31
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