Tuesday, August 14, 2018
The county council will complete its tendering process for public health services for 0 to 19 year olds by re-evaluating the two existing bids from Virgin Health Care Ltd and a joint bid between Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust (LCFT) and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust (BTHT).
The services, which include health visitors and school nurses, were subject to a legal challenge by LCFT and BTHT, which questioned the county council's procurement process following its original decision to award the contract to Virgin Care Services Limited in November last year.
Following a hearing in the High Court in London in April, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith set aside the decision to award the contract.
In his findings, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith had said he did not find any fault with the tendering or scoring elements of the procurement process for the services, but did raise issues with record keeping in the moderation element, which is the final stage of the procurement process.
The scoring and moderation stages will now be re-run with a new independent panel, which will make the decision over who will be awarded the contract.
The county council has also agreed to make a payment towards the health trusts' costs for the legal challenge. Although the total costs for the case are still being finalised, it is anticipated that the figure Lancashire County Council will need to pay will be in the region of £200k which would be around 75% of the total costs.
County Councillor Shaun Turner, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "We will now be able to move forward to finalise this procurement process and we have also agreed to pay 75% of the trusts' legal costs for this case, which will mean we do not have to go back to court.
"Where services such as the 0-19 public health services are not being delivered in house, we are under a legal duty to open them up to competition; and the decision to do so in this case was in no way political.
"The existing contract with LCFT and BTHT does not expire until March 2019 so the public can be reassured that there will be no disruption to these important services.
"Health visitors and school nurses all do a fantastic job and we will continue to support them in any way we can to ensure children and families continue to receive a good service."