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Council faces legal challenge over award of children’s public health contract

Two NHS trusts have brought a legal challenge over Lancashire County Council’s award of a contract for public health services for children aged 0 to 19.

The invite to tender for 0-19 services was issued by the county on 29 September 2017, with a submission date of 7 Nov 2017. The tender covered four areas:

  • Lot 1: 0-19 Public Health Nursing Service
  • Lot 2: Reception Aged Vision Screening Service
  • Lot 3: Community Infant Feeding Service
  • Lot 4: Oral Health Improvement Service

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust collaborated on a bid for Lot 1.

Lancashire Care currently provides the services in Central, East and West Lancashire, while Blackpool Teaching Hospitals delivers them in Fylde and Wyre, Lancs North.

However, they lost out with Lancashire County Council intending to award the contract, worth a reported £104m, to Virgin Care.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “Further to the hearing that took place on 25 January, the court has ruled that the contract can’t be awarded at this point.

“We are working towards a trial date in April, therefore we will continue to provide the service in the interim.

“We cannot comment further at this stage due to the ongoing legal process.”

Shaun Turner, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "We have just completed the procurement of a range of new public health services for children aged 0 to 19.

"This is the first time the county council has carried out this process for 0 to 19 services, which mainly includes providing health visitors and school nurses, since taking over public health responsibilities. This has enabled us to ensure that we will have a consistent range of services across the whole county, available to all, with additional support for those who most need it."

Cllr Turner added: "A winning bidder was chosen using a fair, open and transparent procurement process, inviting bids from suitably experienced organisations.

"Providing a good service for our children and young people will always be our priority and the successful provider scored more highly in a rigorous process, weighted in favour of the quality of service provided.

"However, as a result of an ongoing legal challenge to the process, no contract has yet been awarded."

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