In-house social care decision

The Governing Body of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BSW CCG) and Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet have agreed not to extend a contract for health and social care services operated by HCRG Care Group.

The seven-year contract, which covers the delivery of 51 health and social care services to residents, was initially awarded to Virgin Care Services Ltd and began in April 2017, with an option for the commissioners to extend the term by three years, taking it to 2026/27.

The BSW CCG Governing Body met on 11th November 2021 and agreed a recommendation for such a three-year extension of Virgin Care Services Ltd’s joint commission for these services. As this is a joint contract, Bath & North East Somerset Council adopted similar recommendations on the same day.

On 1 December 2021, Virgin Care Services Limited notified BSW CCG and Bath & North East Somerset Council that the business it formed part of had been sold to T20 Pioneer Holdings Limited, which is in turn held by Twenty20 Capital Limited (via another company) (T20). T20 is a private equity investor. The commissioners were not aware of the potential sale of the provider, prior to making their decisions.

Since the November decision to extend the contract was made on the assumption that the commissioners would continue to deal with the same provider, with the same intentions and risk profile, BSW CCG and the council paused formal confirmation and notification of the extension decision and commissioned an independent review of the implications of these changes to local services.

The content of this independent review highlighted uncertainties arising from the change in ownership of Virgin Care, including ongoing contractual and financial risks, which have now been carefully considered by BSW CCG Governing Body and Bath & North East Somerset Council cabinet at meetings held on 26 May. Both have agreed not to extend the contract which will now end on 31 March 2024.

Sue Harriman, Accountable Officer for BSW CCG and Chief Executive Officer designate for Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Partnership Integrated Care System said:

“We arrived at our decision after carefully considering all the options available to us. I would like to assure local residents that the decision has been taken so we can continue to provide high-quality services that meet the needs of our local communities and ensure we make the best use of public money.

“This decision offers an opportunity to create a new, exciting and integrated model for health and social care services for local people and allow us the opportunity to commission these services at scale.

“This will enable us to continue to work in a joined-up way to make sure everyone has access to the care and treatment that is right for them, live in communities that held them to lead healthier lives and have access to integrated local and specialised services.

I would also like to pass on my thanks to HCRG Care Group’s staff and leadership team who have been providing and running these key services and for the patience and dedication they have shown during this time.”

Cllr Kevin Guy, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council said:

“Since we heard the news about the sale of Virgin Care Services Ltd we have worked closely with our CCG partners to gather the information we needed to make a considered, informed decision about the contract extension.

“Our decision was made after careful consideration of the options before us, I would like to thank residents and local health and social care staff for the patience they have shown in recent months.

I also join the CCG in thanking HCRG Care Group’s staff and leadership team for their dedication in running these key local services during this time.”

Councillor Alison Born, Bath & North East Somerset Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Council House Building said:

“Our priority throughout has been to ensure the delivery of high-quality health and social care services that meet the needs of our local communities.

“This decision gives us an opportunity to redesign community services to focus even more on prevention and ensure residents get the support and care that is right for them”.

“We also now have an opportunity to explore integrating adult social care staff and third sector commissioning back into the council. I look forward to working with staff, third sector organisations, the CCG and other partners to further improve outcomes for residents”.