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Child health services in Wiltshire move to private provider

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Wiltshire Council and NHS England have confirmed all community child health services in Wiltshire will be privatised.* A five-year contract worth £64m has been awarded to Virgin Care, a private provider of health and community services that already operates more than 230 NHS and social care services nationwide.

As of April 2016, the services currently provided in Wiltshire, which include among others, children's specialist community nursing, health visiting and speech and language therapy will transfer to Virgin Care. Wiltshire Council says that by moving from five providers to one, children and parents will have access to consistent and equitable levels of service and support regardless of where they live in the county.

Deborah Fielding Accountable Officer for Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group comments: "It was important to us that before we started looking at the contract for community child health services that we really understood how the children, their parents and their families feel about the services they receive. So, together with Wiltshire Council, NHS England and our partners around the county we held several workshops, developed an online survey and spoke with children, their families and carers. It's with their help that we designed the principles that the new service will adhere to."

Wiltshire Council Corporate Directors, Maggie Rae and Carolyn Godfrey, say: "This new way of working means that children and their families will receive a high quality, joined up and consistent service shaped specifically around them.

"We have worked effectively as a partnership in developing this new service and we believe it will help Wiltshire families achieve the best possible outcomes."

Debra Elliott, Director of Commissioning for NHS England adds: "A single community child health service will help children and young people in Wiltshire receive the best possible start in life. For example, the same standards of care and easier access to services will be possible to all, through more joined-up working between health and social care professionals."

Staff working in areas affected by the change to the community child health services provider will continue in their current role with the same employment terms and conditions, but will be employed by Virgin Care as of April 2016.

The contract was awarded to Virgin Care following a robust procurement process which adhered to the necessary regulatory and policy requirements. Virgin Care is an independent provider of NHS and local authority services with extensive experience in running services for children and young people.

* Services provided in Swindon do not form part of the community child health services in Wiltshire contract