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Richard Branson’s Virgin healthcare firm scoops £1bn of NHS contracts

Richard Branson’s Virgin Care won a record £1bn of NHS contracts last year, as £3.1bn of health services were privatised despite a government pledge to reduce the proportion of care provided by private companies.

Overall, private firms scooped 267 – almost 70% – of the 386 clinical contracts that were put out to tender in England during 2016-17, according to a new report. They included the seven highest value contracts, worth £2.43bn between them, and 13 of the 20 most lucrative tenders.

The £3.1bn in contracts, a big rise on the previous year’s £2.4bn, prompted concern that profit-driven companies are increasingly involved in delivering care, in a development that undermines repeated assurances by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, that they play only a marginal role.

Virgin’s £1bn haul means it now has over 400 separate NHS contracts.

Its growing role has prompted particular anger among anti-privatisation groups. It pays no tax in the UK and its ultimate parent company, Virgin Group Holdings Ltd, is based in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven.

Read more in The Guardian.

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