Mother challenges Virgin Care takeover of mental health service
- 08 Oct
A mother is going to the high court on behalf of her two children to challenge Sir Richard Branson's planned takeover of children's health and social care services in Devon.
The mother's lawyers argue that the council and NHS trust failed to comply with equalities legislation and their own equality policy. They say Virgin Care failed to carry out a comprehensive equality impact assessment
The action is the first of its kind and raises questions about the way NHS and social services are contracted out to private companies. More than 4,000 children will be affected by the change, many of whom are extremely vulnerable.
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, says her two children, aged nine and 13, both of whom receive treatment for mental health problems, could be adversely affected by the planned takeover by Branson's company Virgin Care.
The children have been receiving specialist mental health assistance after being exposed to violence and abuse from their father, who is reported to be drug dependent. The family were forced to escape to safety and the effect on the children has been severe.
The mother said:
This is a dangerous experiment with our children and their future. If children don't get the proper care and support at the time when they need it, it could cause all kinds of problems later on which will be more expensive to sort out.
Last month Devon county council and Devon primary care trust confirmed they had selected Virgin Care to take over the running of services for children with disabilities, the children's mental health service, and school nurses and health visitors, from 1 April next year. The contract, worth more than £100m, has not yet been signed. Bids by the NHS and charities with expertise in children's services were rejected. It has not been disclosed what changes, if any, Virgin Care plans to make to the services.
The mother's lawyers argue that the council and NHS trust failed to comply with equalities legislation and their own equality policy, including by not conducting an equality impact assessment. They say Virgin Care failed to carry out a timely and comprehensive equality impact assessment. The lawyers are asking the court to declare the decision to give Virgin Care preferred bidder status unlawful.
The mother's solicitor, Adam Hundt, at Deighton Pierce Glynn, said:
[The handover] involves management changes, transfer of assets from the public to the private sector, and introduction of a profit motive.
The impact on accountability is not neutral. Where vulnerable children are involved even greater care must be taken.
Rebecca Harriott, director of commissioning development for NHS Devon, Plymouth and Torbay, said:
We firmly believe that there is no case to answer and will strongly defend the action. Both authorities are continuing to progress the current process to award a final contract and transfer staff by 31 March 2013.
The decision to work with Virgin follows an exhaustive tendering process that has involved a large number of parents, carers, professionals and young people themselves as well as affected staff.
A Virgin Care spokesman said:
We have a very strong track record of providing NHS care to vulnerable groups including children for many years now., strengthened with extensive expertise through our contract to provide community services in Surrey.
Source: The Guardian
- 25 May
CARE HAS IMPROVED CONSIDERABLY IN ENGLAND
Almost three fourth of 372 care homes rated inadequate in 2014 and still operating have improved.205 care homes have improved from a low rating to requiring improvement, 68 are now rated good and 99...
- 24 May
NHS ADJUSTMENTS TO BUDGET CUTS
NHS trusts which have been previously rated good or outstanding will not be inspected as frequently as before, but those rated as inadequate will be regularly visited by the CQC.The Guardian reports...
- 19 Mar
Government to inspect if housing can reduce NHS costs
In the Budget document the government have said it's looking at the ‘cost-effectiveness of options to integrate spending around some of the most vulnerable groups of people.' This includes...
- 15 Oct
End of life patients are lacking support
The charity has found that almost 92% of NHS clinical commissioning groups do not provide round the clock telephone helplines, reports the BBC.Guidelines say there should be 24-hour telephone...
- 15 Sep
Social care is being limited due to council cuts
ADASS are warning that cuts are making the care system "unsustainable" with charities saying hundreds of thousands of people are struggling without help, even though the government says councils have...
- 17 Jul
Young people should not be placed in B&Bs says MPs
The Commons Education Select Committee has said that B&B accommodation is "threatening and frightening" and should only be used in emergency situations reports the BBC.MPs say that young people...
- 16 Jul
Special measures system designed to improve failing care homes
A scheme similar to special measures of hospitals will be introduced for care homes and home care agencies next year, ministers will say, reports the BBC.This will cover 25,000 services and could...
- 14 Jul
Research says that one in three Alzheimer's cases can be prevented
The research says that the main risk factors of Alzheimer's is lack of exercise, smoking, depression and poor education, reports the BBC. Alzheimer's Research UK said age was still the biggest risk...
- 10 Jul
NHS boss says those with vulnerabilities need joint health and care budget
Simon Stevens wants to see older people, those with disabilities and people with serious mental health problems given joint pots from the NHS and council-run social care services, reports the...
- 17 Jun
Council falters in reviewing autistic man’s care plan
According to Community Care:"The ruling was made by the Local Government Ombudsman after the man's mother complained that his physical and mental health deteriorated in the two-year period after...
Responding to the DWP Consultation: Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "Sincere thanks to Michael Patterson for an excellent presentation on the HB Reform issues in Leeds last week, and for all the very helpful info and links. I do intend to respond on behalf of our organisation, Caring For Life, but feel that Support Solutions' response is excellent." E.S. - Caring for Life