B&NES Council has endorsed the award of a seven year contract to Virgin Care to deliver community health and care services in Bath and North East Somerset, following extensive consultation.
The consultation included service users, members of the public and health & care professionals.
The Board of Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group gave their endorsement at a meeting yesterday so preparations will now begin for services to be transferred to Virgin Care on 1st April 2017.
Cllr Vic Pritchard, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health said: “The Council has voted to follow the recommendation of a wide range of service users, carers and subject matter experts who have dedicated hundreds of hours to scrutinising the bids and really understand how services need to change.
“This decision marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the integration of health and care services in Bath and North East Somerset.
“Local people can look forward to a more joined up and personalised service in the future with the focus firmly on prevention and supporting people to maintain their independence.”
34 Councillors voted in favour of awarding the contract, whereas 22 Lib Dems and other Councillors voted against, in a recorded vote.
Councillor Tim Ball (Twerton), who is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health and Wellbeing in B&NES, commented: “The Lib Dems did not feel able to support this bid in tonight’s vote.
“We recognise the enormous challenge facing public health and social care services. We also recognise that the consultation process has been criticised and there has been widespread concern and opposition since the preferred bidder was announced.
“For example, many B&NES residents have expressed a preference for a local provider rather than a private company. Concerns have also been expressed that the proposed provider does not have a track record in some areas of care and also that other important services are not within the scope of the contract.”
“This is a £700 million contract which covers the next seven to ten years. We should take the time to get this right. As things stand, there are many outstanding questions, including the impact on staff.”
Lib Dem Group Leader, Councillor Dine Romero (Southdown), added: “It is a shame that the Conservative Cabinet were unwilling to allow further scrutiny of the bid before a final decision.”
Following the Council’s decision, Dr Ian Orpen, Clinical Chair of the CCG, said: “I am pleased that we can now start the process of transferring services. Following extensive consultation with local people and a very rigorous procurement process, the CCG Board is assured that Virgin Care is the right organisation to deliver the personalised and preventative care that local people have asked for.
“We will be working closely with the Council and our new partners, Virgin Care, over the coming months to ensure that services and staff are transferred across safely on 1st April 2017 and to minimise disruption to the care and support that people currently receive.”