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Virgin Care to run children’s services in Devon

Virgin Care has been named the preferred bidder for a £130m contract to run children’s services in Devon.

The other two bidders were a consortium of Devon Partnership NHS Trust with charities Barnado’s, Young Devon and Interserve; and Serco with Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust.

The company will take over frontline services in March 2013. The contract will run for three years and covers integrated health and social care services, including mental health, school nurses and health visitors.

Virgin Care will also take over around 1,100 staff currently employed by NHS Devon and Devon County Council. The company now runs 120 NHS services, mostly GP practices.

Child protection will remain the responsibility of local government, yet many are concerned that such contracts could lead to greater and greater privatisation of the NHS, with core services outsourced.

Rebecca Harriott, director of commissioning development at NHS Devon, said: “We know that these are important and sensitive services and it is vital to ensure that everyone can be confident that a winning bidder is able to deliver the best possible outcomes for children and young people acrossDevon.

“That is why we have been so careful to involve as many stakeholders as possible in the evaluation process including young people, parents and carers and professionals such as GPs and head teachers.

“Bringing together community-based health and social care staff has brought many benefits for children, young people, parents and carers. Keeping these services together and developing them further means finding the right provider with the right vision and commitment. Today’s announcement is just one step towards this.”

A Virgin Care spokesman said: “We have a strong track record of delivering investment and complex care for children and young people as well as a wider range of NHS services across the country. Since 2006 we have treated over 2 million people delivering services that offer improved accessibility, convenience, satisfaction and most importantly, that deliver improved health outcomes while at the same time providing improved value for money.”

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