Branson pockets £2bn in NHS cash over five years

Modesto Morganelli
Agosto 9, 2018

Virgin has been awarded nearly £2 billion worth of NHS contracts over the past five years, according to new analysis.

In one year alone, the company's health arm, Virgin Care, won deals potentially worth £1bn to provide services around England, making it the biggest victor among private companies bidding for NHS work over the period.

The company and its subsidiaries now hold at least 400 contracts across the public sector - ranging from healthcare in prisons to school immunisation programmes and dementia care for the elderly. This focus has led to about a third of its United Kingdom companies' turnover coming from government contracts.

While some of Virgin's United Kingdom subsidiaries have little of the parent company's cash, others are wholly owned by Branson's Virgin Group Holdings Limited, based in Road Town, Tortola.

A spokesman for Virgin Care said: "For more than 10 years we have been supporting the NHS and local authorities to deliver health and care services; we have saved the taxpayer millions and delivered the plans asked for by the NHS- 93% of people rating our services say they'd recommend them".

He added: 'At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressure, it is vital that taxpayers money is used to support overstretched NHS services to provide high-quality, safe care to patients, not to fund multi-million pound private contracts'.

Areas receiving the most contracts include Bath and north-east Somerset, where there are 200 services provided across sectors worth £700m for Virgin.

Guardian analysis reveals the way the company that began selling records in the early 1970s has diversified in a bewildering way over recent years. The fact that the business is winning service bids as well as taking the NHS to court is worrying healthcare workers and their representatives.

A contract with NHS England to give school flu jobs in Devon.

Union Unite called on MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee to look into private healthcare involvement with the NHS.

Sarah Carpenter, head of health at the union, said: "The Commons health and social care select committee should investigate how Richard Branson's Virgin empire has gobbled up almost £2bn of NHS contracts in the last five years". Turnover went from £133m to £240m.

That deal netted Virgin and its partner Stagecoach £117m in government payments in 2016-17. But a Virgin Care spokesperson stated that the company have yet to make a profit.

Paul Evans, the director of the campaign group NHS Support Federation, said: "Virgin Care are the biggest private sector victor to emerge out of the NHS experiment with competition and outsourcing. Richard has pledged that if and when he could take a dividend from Virgin Care he will put 100% of that money back into the NHS, with frontline employees deciding how best to spend it".

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