Many residents are rightly alarmed by the takeover by the venture Capital Firm Twenty Twenty, now called HRCG, and the role this venture capital company that is intent on making profit for its shareholders will now have with regard to care services in B&NES.
Committee members of the Children, Adults, Health and Well Being Policy, Development and Scrutiny Panel repeatedly raised the serious impact to services and local staff providers of this new contract including Green Cllr, Joanna Wright. Joanna repeatedly called for this scrutiny committee to have an early meeting on the changes to the contract. The committee is to meet next week on the 8th March, however, committee members have recently received the agenda papers and there is no item on the agenda to discuss the contractual changes to the care services in B&NES.
Cllr Joanna Wright has written to the Chair of this committee, Conservative Cllr Vic Pritchard, asking why there was no agenda item on HCRG. Cllr Pritchard responded stating: “I’m repeatedly advised by the Chief Executive that scrutiny will not and cannot play a part in the Virgin Care situation as it’s a contractual matter for the executive to decide. I’ve continually stressed that scrutiny needs to be involved if only to allow public and union access to the process.”
Cllr Joanna Wright has also written to the Director of Adult Social Care at B&NES asking for information on whether due diligence and the legal reports have been completed on what was Virgin Care. The response from B&NES Officers was “I can confirm Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCG and Bath and North East Somerset Council have now received the initial due diligence report commissioned on Twenty20 Capital/HCRG Care Group. We have also been assured by HCRG Care Group that the acquisition of Virgin Care will make no difference to the way in which services are provided. However, the change in ownership has raised several issues that require further information.
In light of these issues and following specialist legal advice, the CCG and Council have agreed with HCRG Care Group to vary the existing contract to allow a more detailed review of the implications of these changes to our local services, and of their impact on the options appraisal that formed the basis for the original extension decision. We are aiming to conclude this work in time for a decision to be taken by June 30th”
It is clear that the Council has now secured an agreed variation to the timescale for a decision to be made about extending the contract. However, since the Council have now received the due diligence report and legal advice, shouldn’t these be made available to the scrutiny committee, or at least the key points? How else can the committee, whose role is to scrutinise, fulfil its obligations to assist the Cabinet by giving comments on issues identified as “Key Decisions” prior to a decision being made?
Cllr Joanna Wright is calling for a special meeting on the contractual changes and will ask once again at the Children, Adults, Health and Well Being Policy, Development and Scrutiny Panel for a date in the Council’s diary.
Joanna said “So many residents have contacted me on this takeover. The services are paid for out of the public purse for the greater good of our community. It is clear key points with regard to the reports and legal advice should be shared with committee members.”