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Controversial 'Virgin Care' contract approved

There have been protests against the plans Photo: ITV West Country

Bath and North East Somerset Council have awarded a 7 year contract to Virgin Care to deliver community health and care services in the area.

It comes after a lengthy consultation process and amid protests from residents.

It's the first time a for-profit company will deliver a council's social care for adults.

The Board of Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) approved the plans at a meeting yesterday (Thursday 10th).

Virgin Care is part of Richard Branson's group Credit: PA Images

Billionaire Richard Branson's group are being awarded a £700m to run NHS services.

The private company will run or oversee more than 200 health care and social care services in the area.

Preparations will now begin for services to be transferred to Virgin Care on April1st 2017.

Protestors are worried profits will be prioritised above patients. Credit: ITV West Country

Currently, community care in Bath & North East Somerset is run by non-for profit company Sirona.

The council and the Clinical Commissioning Group say Virgin's proposed model is based upon two years of expert consultation.

UNISON regional organiser John Drake said:

“It’s time to move forward together to build a stronger health service for local people. We’ve spoken to hundreds of staff since the bidding process began, and their dedication to doing the best for patients shone throughout.

“But staff are anxious about Virgin Care taking over. Services are already under intense strain because of the government's failure to invest in social care. Many community health staff are paid a pittance, despite the long hours they put in and their dedicated work.

“Employees need clear recognition from Virgin that a well-run health service means investment in staff. Our priority is an effective public service that values staff, and we will hold Virgin Care to the high standard that the workforce and the local community deserve.”