Virgin health contract legal row continues

Coun Azhar Ali
Coun Azhar Ali
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The latest court hearing has concluded in the legal challenge to the controversial decision to hand over some of Lancashire’s health services to a private company.

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.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals and Lancashire Care 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 took place last week with a four-day hearing at the High Court.

A final decision could take several weeks.

The move to award the contract to a private firm sparked fierce criticism from opponents.

Coun Azhar Ali, Labour leader on the county council, said: “This is a massive contract and it has major ramifications for healthcare in Lancashire.”

Court documents show the decision will save just 0.07 per cent - or £14,560 a year.