Following a rigorous procurement process, the two NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups covering Dartford, Gravesham, Swanley and Swale will this week award the contract to provide community health services for adults to Virgin Care.

From 1 April 2016, the services, which include community nursing, community hospital services, intermediate care, community neuro rehabilitation, speech and language therapy, podiatry and continence services will transfer to Virgin Care from the current providers.

The decision comes after a year-long procurement process, which saw Virgin Care rated top following a thorough evaluation involving hospital and community NHS staff, local GPs, local patients, commissioners and subject matter experts.

Patricia Davies, Accountable Officer for NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley (DGS) and NHS Swale CCGs, who plan and buy most health services in the area, said: “After a rigorous procurement process, we are awarding Virgin Care the contract to provide adult community health services in Dartford, Gravesham, Swanley and Swale.

“We look forward to working with Virgin Care towards the delivery of high quality and sustainable community health services not just for today, but for years to come. As part of our commitment to ongoing patient and stakeholder feedback, with the assistance of a panel of patient representatives, we will continue to work closely with all parties to ensure a smooth and seamless transition for patients.”

Virgin Care has proven experience of running high quality NHS community health services over the last ten years, providing free at the point of need NHS services to more than a million patients across England each year.

Richard Comerford, the Regional Director from Virgin Care said: “We have a strong track record of delivering NHS community health care services which are highly rated by patients. We’re very excited to have the opportunity to deliver these services across Dartford, Gravesham, Swanley and Swale and we’re looking forward to working with the many dedicated and talented staff who will join us in April.”

Seven bids were considered in total, with four high-quality bids shortlisted and thoroughly evaluated. The contract was awarded to Virgin Care as the provider who best demonstrated to the CCGs how they could meet the aims and objectives for these services.

The contract is worth just over £18 million per year for the next seven years across DGS and Swale CCG areas, with the potential to extend by three years.

All affected adult community services staff currently employed by the existing providers, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust and Medway Community Healthcare, will be able to transfer across to Virgin Care from 1 April 2016, carrying with them their continuous service, with the same terms and conditions of employment.