Preferred bidder chosen for 0-19 public health services

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Virgin Care Services Limited has been identified as the preferred bidder for the delivery of 0-19 public health services in Lancashire from next year after a re-evaluation of bids was completed.

The services, which include health visitors and school nurses, were subject to a legal challenge by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust (LCFT) and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHT), who questioned the county council's procurement process following its original decision to award the contract to Virgin Care 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. He raised issues with the record keeping in the final stage of the procurement process, the moderation element of the bids.

Now this part has been re-run with a new independent panel of senior experts, who found the Virgin Care bid scored more highly than the joint bid made by LCFT and BTHT, who currently provide the services. Only two bids were received to provide the services.

The contract award decision is now subject to a 10 day standstill period, which is a legal process required under EU procurement law.

In the absence of any challenge, the county council then intends to enter into a contract with Virgin Care for the provision of these services.

The existing contract will continue to be run by LCFT and BTHT until the end of March next year, ensuring no disruption to services should the appointment of Virgin Care be confirmed after the end of the standstill period.

County Councillor Shaun Turner, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "Virgin Care has now been selected as preferred bidder to provide a range of new public health services for children aged 0 to 19 after the conclusion of this procurement process.

"'The law requires the county council to open services such as these up to competition where they are not provided in house. In February 2017, the previous administration chose not to do the latter and instead decided to conduct the procurement process in the open market.

"This contract will ensure there is a consistent range of 0 to 19 services across the whole county, available to all, with additional support for those who most need it.

"Our aim has always been to help narrow the gap in health between different groups and communities, while integrating more closely with other children's and family services.

"We know this is an unsettling period for staff and once the standstill period has been completed they will be fully informed about the next steps."

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