Ealing tenders community services contract

Ealing CCG has tendered a £450m ten-year contract for the running of community services in the west-London borough.

The contract will run from May 2019, and according to HSJ, has attracted interest from ‘at least’ two NHS trusts which ‘could be competing’ with private healthcare operator Virgin Care.

London North West University Healthcare Trust along with Central London Community Healthcare Trust are thought to be considering bids.

The majority of the CCG’s community services contracts are due to expire over the next 18 months, with the new contract ‘an opportunity’ to move to a single contract for services, including GPs, social care services and community nurses, the CCG said.

It said feedback from healthcare professionals and patients highlighted that they would like to see better integration between these services.

Virgin Care has been the subject of media scrutiny this week after analysis by the Guardian revealed the private operator has won almost £2bn worth of NHS contracts over the past five years.

Unite the Union, the UK’s largest trade union, on Monday called for Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, to ‘examine how Virgin and other private healthcare companies have acquired such a plethora of NHS contracts’.

The organisation’s head of health Sarah Carpenter said: ‘With the spectre of Carillion still haunting the public sector the select committee needs to urgently examine whether the NHS and taxpayer is getting value for money from Virgin Care accumulating so many health service contracts.

‘The scope of such an inquiry should be widened out to look at private healthcare companies, and the scale and scope of their involvement in the NHS generally as well as the potential impacts and risks that this may have.’

The Health and Social Care Committee declined to comment on calls for it to launch an inquiry and Virgin has also been contacted.