Court hearing over council's £104m contract to Virgin healthcare

The latest court hearing in the legal challenge to the controversial decision to hand over some of Lancashire's health services to a private company is drawing to a close.

Tuesday, 1st May 2018, 4:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st May 2018, 4:36 pm
Lancashire County council awarded a 104m contract for services including school nurses to Virgin

The High Court hearing is the latest stage in the battle between the NHS and Lancashire County Council.The legal action was launched after the council awarded a £104m contract to private healthcare firm Virgin to run the council’s Healthy Child Programme, which covers services including school nurses and health visitors.Lancashire Care and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals trusts – which currently run the service – launched a legal action against the decision.The switch over was due to take place on April 1, but Justice Peter Fraser blocked the move at an earlier hearing.The latest stage of the case began last week at the High Court and is due to conclude on Friday.A final decision on the case could take several weeks.The decision to award the County Council’s contract to a private provider prompted a fierce backlash from opposition groups on the council.Coun Azhar Ali, Labour leader on the county council, branded the decision “privatisation by the back door.” He said: “This is a massive contract and it has major ramifications for healthcare in Lancashire. It is a terrible blow and could have an impact on the viability of the Lancashire Care Trust.”