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Virgin to open new primary care centres in 2008

The Virgin Group has announced that its new business, Virgin Healthcare, will enter the primary healthcare market in 2008.

Following two years of extensive consultation, Virgin Healthcare will be opening centres jointly with NHS GPs and other healthcare professionals.

The centres will consolidate a wide range of primary healthcare  services in modern facilities. The first Virgin Healthcare centre will open later in 2008 - with an initial roll-out of five further centres, located across England, to open by the end of 2009.

Virgin Healthcare plans to work with existing GP practices in their current structures and under their existing contracts with  PCTs.

Virgin Healthcare Chief Executive, Mark Adams, said: "The Virgin Healthcare model is to work with healthcare professionals under existing NHS contracts.

"They will retain their independent contractor status and Virgin Heathcare will seek to expand and offer more patient services in existing practices.

"Virgin Healthcare does not intend to bid for APMS contracts."

Virgin Healthcare has stated its aims is "to jointly create centres that provide a selection of services for the benefit of all patients" and to "preserve the most valued elements of primary healthcare and ensure patient continuity of care."

The organisation insists that "the same local GPs working within the NHS will be looking after the same patients" and that NHS services will still be free at the point of delivery.

The range of services provided will be determined in consultation with the local health economy and, as well as GPs, could include dentistry, diagnostics, screening, a pharmacy and a range of conventional and complementary therapies.

Mr Adams said: "Virgin's expertise in customer service, technological know how, communication skills and resources can combine with the expertise of primary healthcare clinicians to make that difference in the healthcare sector."

An early priority for the Virgin Healthcare team is to consult with GPs and their practice teams across England. Between 4 February and 19 March the Virgin team will be presenting their plans to and inviting feedback from GPs and their practice teams in 26 venues located across the country.

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I am a highly experienced consultant nurse in diabetes with 22 years diabetes, cardiovascular, diabetic retinopathy and erectile dysfunction and research. I have 10 years experience of working in primary care at all levels including being on the executive committee for two PCTs. I am currently studying an MBA and would like to work for Virgin Healthcare. I have been very successful and have acheived nurse of the 2006 and an MBE for services to diabetes and nursing." - Grace, London

"'Tries to be in partnership.' Will it deliver that?" - Name and address supplied

"Excellent. Please let me know as I would be interested to apply for a job them" - Name and address supplied

"Excellent! I hope they open in my area, I will be available for interviews whenever" - Name and address supplied

"Excellent, hope there is one in our area. I would like to see Virgin Healthcare involved in the delivery of maternity services - how does the Virgin Birthing Centre sound? - Name and address supplied

"I have no objection to private interface with the NHS as this can bring benefits for both parties. My objection is one of costs, particularly when this country is considered to be in my opinion an international Health Service free to all irrespective of contributions in any shape or form by those taking advantage." - Name and address supplied

"I would like a job!!!" - Name and address supplied

"So would I!" - Name and address supplied