Does Virgin pose a threat to the NHS?

Virgin Health is now running some GP surgeries

Virgin Health is now running some GP surgeries

Private provider Virgin Care has won nearly £2bn worth of NHS contracts over the past five years, according to a new analysis.

In 2016, Pulse reported Virgin Care won a £17m per year contract for delivering adult community health services in NHS Guildford and Waverley CCG and also clinched contracts worth £65m to provide urgent care services in West Lancashire.

Virgin, along with its subsidiaries, now holds around 400 public sector contracts.

This aggressive expansion into the public sector means that around a third of the turnover for Virgin's United Kingdom companies now appear to be from government contracts.

While some of Virgin's United Kingdom subsidiaries have little of the parent company's cash, others are wholly owned by Branson's Virgin Group Holdings Limited, based in Road Town, Tortola.

And its services are no longer confined to the NHS.

"The company has been so keen to get a foothold in healthcare, it's even been prepared to go to court to win contracts, moves that have cost the NHS dearly.

At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressure, it is vital that taxpayers' money is used to support overstretched NHS services to provide high-quality, safe care to patients, not to fund multimillion-pound private contracts".

According to the newspaper, NHS services contracted out include: sexual health services in the north-east of England, some GP surgeries in Essex, healthcare in a number of low-category prisons and a contract with NHS England to give school flu jabs in Devon.

Guardian analysis reveals the way the company that began selling records in the early 1970s has diversified in a bewildering way over recent years.

While Branson has focused on his high-profile efforts to put tourists into space, his businesses have been hoovering up low-profile contracts in unusual places, taking advantage of changes to the NHS that have forced local service providers to consider private companies.

Precise details of all the contracts are hard to establish because neither the Department of Health and Social Care or NHS England keep a centralised record.

Virgin has been honing in on healthcare since 2008, and became more ambitious as of 2010.

Since then, Virgin Care Services Ltd has bid for - and won - dozens more.

"After the biggest funding squeeze in NHS history it is essential that every penny is going to frontline services and to improving patient care, rather than padding out private profits".

A spokesperson said: "Virgin has created multiple billion-dollar companies across the globe. which are not connected in any way to government procured contracts".