Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board and Bath and North East Somerset Council agree recommendations on Virgin Care contract extension

The Governing Body of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board (BSW ICB) and Bath and North East Somerset Council’s cabinet have each agreed to recommendations which would extend Virgin Care’s contract to provide health and care services while seeing two services transfer back to the council and the ICB, subject to finalising contract arrangements.

The decision means Virgin Care will continue to provide adult community, adult health and social care services, children’s health services and some public health services until 2026/27.

The decision was reached after both the ICB and council adopted recommendations contained in a report outlining Virgin Care’s performance, including customer feedback and details of areas requiring improvement. The report recommended extending the contract but returning Virgin Care’s responsibilities for strategic adult safeguarding and Continuing Health Care (CHC) to the council and ICB respectively.

Returning responsibility for the two services will streamline safeguarding services between Virgin Care and the council and the transfer of the CHC service to the ICB will bring it in line with CHC arrangements for Swindon and Wiltshire.

The option of a contract extension for a further three years was included as part of the original contract between Virgin Care, B&NES Council and the ICB in 2016/17. Extending the contract will allow Virgin Care adequate time to progress and embed the transformation programme that they embarked on at the start of the contract.

Virgin Care has been responsible for a wide range of services since April 2017 to support people in the community who, for example, have diabetes or dementia or who have respiratory problems or suffered a stroke; children with learning difficulties or life limiting conditions; people with complex needs; and elderly people undergoing rehabilitation after a stay in hospital.

Virgin Care is also currently responsible for two community hospitals, outpatients’ clinics, school nursing and immunisation services as well as wellbeing services and some social care services.

The report to the ICB and council says regular monitoring of these services has found they are well run by Virgin Care and its sub-contractors. It says the offer to residents has improved following changes to service delivery.

Dr Brynn Bird, GP and B&NES Clinical Lead at BSW ICB said:

“Since taking up the contract in 2017, Virgin Care has provided excellent health and care services for the people of Bath and North East Somerset and introduced many improvements to the way they are delivered.

“These services are making a tangible difference to our local population’s health outcomes and we strongly believe that it is within the best interests of local people for Virgin Care to continue to provide these services for another three years.”

Councillor Alison Born, cabinet member for Adults and Council House Building, said:

“Virgin Care have made some significant improvements to services since the start of their contract, including to stroke services and district nursing, as well as the introduction of the electronic care record. Virgin Care have also worked very constructively with partners during the pandemic.

“This is a particularly challenging time for community health and social care. This decision allows us to continue to focus on the needs of service users as we recover from the pandemic and make the transition to a more integrated health and care system.”

Val Scrase, Virgin Care’s Managing Director, B&NES, Devon and Wiltshire Community Services said:

“We are delighted that Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board and Bath & North East Somerset Council have asked us to continue managing community health and care services locally for another three years.

“Our aim is to change lives by transforming health and care and so we are pleased that the work our teams have done to improve services has been recognised for the positive impact it has had, particularly through the pandemic where our teams’ hard work and flexibility supported so many of the most vulnerable in our community so well.

“We believe in continuing to improve services, and so will continue to work with the ICB and Council, as well as our colleagues, to improve services focusing particularly on those areas where commissioners have highlighted further improvements are needed.”

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s cabinet agreed at a formal cabinet meeting held on 11th November to extend Virgin Care’s contract term for a three year period – until 31st March 2027- but with identified services removed from block contract and/or improvement trajectories for identified services.
The cabinet agreed to delegate to the Director Adult Social Care, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Adult Services, authority to serve notice to extend the contract once assured that the total price for the contract as varied is agreed and affordable.