• Commissioners extend Virgin’s contract for children’s services in Devon
  • Funding split between NHS and local authority
  • Extension follows delay to re-procurement caused by ‘success regime’

Virgin Care is set to receive a £35m contract to provide children’s services for a further year ahead of another re-procurement by commissioners.

The company, whose contract with NEW Devon Clinical Commission ends in March next year, is now expected to run the service for a further 12 months while the clinical commissioning group designs and procures a new service.

Children’s services in Devon – rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission – are funded jointly by the Devon CCGs and Devon County Council, with the CCGs’ contribution for the one year extension amounting to £19.9m.

The original five year contract was awarded to Virgin in 2012 – a decision which prompted anger from local GPs and members of the public.

A spokeswoman for the CCG told HSJ that a further year-long contract was currently being negotiated.

She said it was necessary because the CCG was unable to begin an earlier procurement process, due to the service being subject to a “strategic review” under the “success regime” put in place by NHS England.

All services and procurements were reviewed as part of the success regime, the spokeswoman said.

The existing contract covers a wide range of care for children and young people, including mental healthcare, school nursing, health visits, and care for the disabled.

The CCG has been gathering views from 800 service users, parents, and professionals as it seeks to redesign the service that will be re-procured.

Board papers reveal that the CCG is looking to award the next contract for up to 10 years, but the spokeswoman said the CCG has not yet decided the length.

Some key elements of the new service have been identified during the CCG’s consultation, include:

  • Extending services beyond five days per week;
  • A locality based “integrated front door” which is easy to access both “physically and virtually”; and
  • A rapid triage process for referrals by a coordinator supported by professional expertise and protocol.

The CCG spokeswoman said: “One of the clear themes in the findings of this engagement is that people want integrated services which provide seamless provision.”

Updated at 5pm 5 October to state that a new year-long contract is being put in place, rather than an extension, and to state that - while it is set to be agreed - negotiation are ongoing.