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CCGs settle with Virgin

A legal dispute between Virgin Care and six Surrey clinical commissioning groups has been resolved – with an apparent payment by the NHS to the company.

The litigation – over a £82m procurement of children’s services across Surrey – was launched after the three year contract was awarded to Surrey Healthy Children and Families Services – an alliance between Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust and two local social enterprises.

Virgin Care Services started High Court proceedings against NHS England, Surrey County Council and the CCGs in November last year. It said there were “serious flaws in the procurement process” which had left it “so concerned” that it had launched the proceedings.

However, governing body papers for NHS Surrey Downs – one of the six CCGs involved - have revealed that its “liability” in the case is £328,000. The sum was published this month in a finance paper covering October on the CCG’s website. The paper was uploaded earlier this week but subsequently removed after HSJ started to enquire about the settlement. A CCG spokesperson said the reference had been removed because “the level of detail…should not have been included in the report”.

It is not clear whether Surrey County Council and NHS England have also contributed to any settlement, or if the amount stated also covered legal costs.

When Virgin launched the legal challenge, the CCG said it had confidence in the commissioning process involved and intended to defend the claim. NHS Guildford and Waverley’s latest governing body papers suggest that it had sought specialist legal support and that NHS England had been kept informed of the situation and was involved.

STP finally gets going

The cumbersome Cheshire and Merseyside STP was always going to be tricky to get a grip of. There had been little to no history of joint working across the footprint, and initial efforts focused on integration between the NHS organisations in three geographies.

But the geographies made little sense, local authorities felt excluded and there wasn’t much evidence of progress.

In the summer, a full time chair was appointed plus a new leader, and a different approach is apparently being taken with the STP split into nine boroughs and focusing on health and social care integration (ie talking to the councils).

Meanwhile, the KPMG has been commissioned to work with the NHS Transformation Unit, which led the Healthier Together programme in Greater Manchester, to work on plans for acute reconfiguration across the patch.

According to one senior figure in the region, it feels like things are finally getting going.