Virgin Care has been awarded a £280m, seven-year prime provider contract to manage services in East Staffordshire, HSJ can reveal.

It beat competition from the only other shortlisted bidder, Optum, to win the contract to coordinate services for frail elderly patients, those with long term conditions and intermediate care.

The programme, supported by the 19 East Staffordshire GP practices, will come into effect from April next year and serve around 38,000 people with long term conditions as well as an estimated 6,000 frail older people.

It is a separate contract to a tender process being carried out by four other Staffordshire clinical commissioning groups for cancer and end of life care which is worth a total of £1.2bn. Virgin Care is bidding for the end of life care element of that tender worth £535m.

East Staffordshire CCG has said it pursued the prime provider model because of expected increases in demand and costs, which Virgin Care will have to absorb over the seven years.

The CCG said that without the contract it would be unsustainable by 2018 and overspend its allocation from NHS England by £10m.

CCG accountable officer Tony Bruce told HSJ last year that he believed the deal would improve services. He said it was required because the CCG did not have the capacity to deliver the integration of services.

“What we are talking about is supply chain management,” he said. “CCGs were not set up in scale or expectation to micro-manage the interactions between different providers.”

The CCG said benefits of the deal could include better delivery of self-help support, joined up care, better use of technology, and a wider choice of seven day services.

The group said Virgin Care will coordinate services across providers to deliver agreed outcomes, although it has not published what these outcomes are.

Charles Pidsley, chair of East Staffordshire CCG, said: “We are delighted to be working with Virgin Care to put the Improving Lives programme into practice. We are confident it will bring about the changes needed to improve care to local people, particularly those with long term health problems.

“We chose Virgin Care as a like minded partner with a strong track record and we will use its experience to help us tackle the local challenges patients and professionals have shared.”

Neil Goulbourne, head of innovation at Virgin Care, said: “We’ve enjoyed working with the CCG and local people to design improvements to these services and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with patients, staff and carers to build the services with them that they need and want.”