Commissioning

17.08.18

Lancashire County Council to pay £200k in legal costs after trust legal battle

Lancashire County Council has agreed to pay £200,000 in legal costs to two NHS Trusts after their decision to hand a £104million contract in healthcare provision to Virgin Care was blocked by the High Court.

The payment comes in the wake of a legal ruling made in April ordering a re-run of the tendering process.

The authority chose to award the contract for under-20s public care to Virgin over a joint bid from existing providers the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust in November of last year.

Following the High Court’s decision, Lancashire County Council will reevaluate the two tenders before the current contract’s expiry in March.

Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, Cllr Shaun Turner, the council’s cabinet member for health, said: “We have also agreed to pay 75% of the trusts’ legal costs for this case, which will mean we do not have to go back to court. We will now be able to move forward to finalise this procurement process.

“Where services are not being delivered in-house, we are under a legal duty to open them up to competition. The decision in this case was in no way political.”

A spokesman for Lancashire Care said: “Following the outcome of the trial where the court found deficiencies in the evaluation process, the trust agreed to Lancashire County Council’s request to re-evaluate our original bid.

“We are mindful of the need for this matter to be resolved as soon as possible.”

Lancashire Care currently provide the service in Central, East, and West Lancashire, with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals covering the rest of the county.

Cllr Azhar Ali, leader of the county council’s Labour opposition group, said: “The fact that the county is only re-running the final stages of the tendering process is positive.

“I hope this process can be conducted in an open and transparent manner to avoid any further legal challenges and costs to Lancashire’s council taxpayers.”

A spokesman for Virgin Care said it would be inappropriate to comment.

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Image credit: Sergey Tinyakov

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