Children’s mental health care in Norfolk could be taken over by Richard Branson’s Virgin Care

Full story at Eastern Daily Press 22 February 2018 

Children’s mental health services in Norfolk could be taken over by Sir Richard Branson’s controversial company Virgin Care, it can be revealed.

The private company, which provides more than £1bn-worth of NHS contracts across the country, is believed to be eyeing a move into Norfolk – prompting fears about the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

One campaigner said it would be an “absolute disaster”, while another said: “The last thing we need is Richard Branson to join in.”

The possible move by Virgin Care emerged in board papers for a meeting of mental health trust directors on Thursday, which said the process of re-tendering the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) contract had begun.

The papers say: “Virgin are bidding for CAMHS services in Devon, indicating they will bid in Norfolk, should the tender proceed.

Research by the pressure group the NHS Support Federation found over the last seven years Virgin Care had been awarded contracts worth more than £2bn and by this year was running more than 400 NHS services across the country.

Last year the firm sued six clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) after it failed to win an £82m care contract.

But the county’s CCGs said no decision had been made, and re-tendering was only a “potential option in the future”. A spokesman added: “It is unfortunate that speculation has been made, in the way it has, in trust board papers.”

Campaigners said awarding the contract to Virgin Care would be “devastating”.