Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 8, 2018

Virgin Care Report Celebrates “Achievements” In West Lancs?

As reported in the Champion, Virgin Care has published a “Quality Account” that purports to record and even celebrate with pride what has been delivered over the last 12 months. As the managing director of West Lancashire Community and Urgent Care Services for Virgin Care said, what’s been achieved is a result of “our dedicated colleagues”. Of that there is no doubt.

Rosie Cooper MP is no fan of West Lancashire Virgin Healthcare, and is less so after quoting their inclusion of its North Kent operations in its Executive Summary of the West Lancashire Quality Account. Why include North Kent? A smoke screen? Perhaps so.

“A Quality Account is an annual report which providers of NHS healthcare services must publish about the quality of services they provide. This quality account covers the services provided by Virgin Care Services Limited. Virgin Care delivers NHS services on behalf of Dartford Gravesend Swanley and Swale Clinical Commissioning Group in North Kent, and is one of a number of providers of health and care services locally.

“This document is a demonstration of Virgin Care’s commitment to providing the best quality community healthcare services to citizens in North Kent. Quality Accounts are an opportunity for the organisation to take stock of what has been achieved and what is planned for the coming year as well as focusing the mind of the dedicated, hard-working staff who deliver services every day, on continuing to improve services”.

We reach the West Lancashire service review on page 7. “Skelmersdale Walk in centre is located in The Concourse Shopping Centre. West Lancashire Urgent Care Centre located within West Lancashire Health Centre, Ormskirk District General Hospital . The Out of Hours Service subcontracted by Virgin Care to Vocare Ltd is based here and works closely with the Health Centre. Skelmersdale Walk in centre has the same opening hours and can see and treat the same conditions as at West Lancashire Health Centre with the exception of fractures or suspected DVT’s”.

Rosie Cooper quotes concerns about transparency of sub-contracting patient care to private companies. It may be a coincidence that badly affected patients are elderly, one being a blind 84 year old who was struck of the podiatry register for missing an appointment after being rushed to hospital. Are we right to wonder if the words “Virgin” and “care” used together creates an anomaly?

Having recently had an accident I have required the superb service of the District Nurses and yesterday had to attend the Urgent Care Centre at Ormskirk. Arriving at mid-dayish, and coincidentally meeting a neighbour, I booked in and was called at around 2pm for my first urgent care contact. A series of tests followed, the nurse being highly efficient. I then had to wait to see a clinician. Another two hours passed, enjoyably as it happened with my neighbour still there. The clinician was, like the nursing staff, highly efficient and caring. I needed a scan. But this was unlikely to happen as the Urgent Care Centre has a limited call on hospital x-rays and scans. Ultimately my condition required priority and I will have my scan later this week. But throughout the day the centre was full, noisy, people looking around and raising eye-brows at the apparent chaos. The experience was of poor organisation but with caring staff who appeared overwhelmed at times.

This event raises a serious question, already raised by Rosie Cooper. Why did Virgin Care receive a £65million contract and call its service “Urgent Care” when no matter the urgency for a scan it could not happen. What if three patients needed scans on the same day? Rationing that puts lives at risk? 

The Quality Account states that “Since 2006, Virgin Care has been on a journey to improve health and care services in England. Focused on delivering high quality care, good value and the fantastic customer service you’d expect from Virgin. Virgin Care only provides services where it believes it can make a difference, with the vast majority of its services funded by the tax payer and free-to-use for local people”.

Well, Virgin Care’s core objective is to be the best community-based provider of care in England, with its stated purpose being “Everyone feels the difference”. So far, and now writing from experience, I can only conclude that I wish the Virgin Care journey quoted above had bi-passed West Lancashire. The NHS doesn’t need profiteers, it needs real carers. What’s wrong with “NHS Carers” being our health care providers?

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