COMMERCIAL: Two clinical commissioning groups are going to court to overturn a contract suspension obtained by a local trust.

Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley, and Sale CCGs are due to make their legal case on Thursday to overturn the suspension obtained by Kent Community Health Foundation Trust in February.

The £126m, seven year contract was awarded to Virgin Care and had been due to start last month.

A report from Kent Community Health chief executive Paul Bentley to the trust’s most recent board meeting said: “The trust does not believe that [the challenge to the suspension] is necessary prior to a full hearing of the substantive matters.

“[Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley] CCG has acknowledged that there is a ‘serious’ issue to be trialled but contend that financial damages would be sufficient if the case is proven rather than maintaining the contract suspension and enabling the award to be overturned.

“The trust holds the view that financial damages are not the right remedy between two NHS organisations.”

The trust made its bid in alliance with Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust, and Virgin’s offer also beat a bid from Dartford and Gravesham Trust.

The board paper also said: “There had been a rise in the number of complaints relating to staff attitude in the last quarter, and this reflected in part the uncertainties staff were experiencing in north Kent following the outcome of the recent tender.”

A spokeswoman for Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG said: “On 10 May 2016, lawyers representing Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley, and Swale CCGs, submitted an application to the High Court seeking to lift the suspension of the contract award to Virgin Care.

“That hearing is expected to take place this Thursday 26 May and until then, the CCGs are unable to make any further comment.”