Would you let Virgincare look after your children?
They don’t do a school for visionary philanthropist entrepreneurs but if they did, I imagine one of the key lessons would be how to gaze profoundly into the middle distance whenever anyone takes a photo of you. As if the camera has just at that moment caught you developing yet another ground breaking idea. And sure enough, if you look up the Virgincare website, the first thing you will notice is a smiley Sir Richard Branson gazing profoundly into the distance.
Taking a small break from his visionary philanthropist gazing, Sir Richard tells us that,
'Like everyone in the UK, he is hugely proud of the NHS and our social care system and the amazing work front line staff do every day to support all of our care needs’.
He goes on,
'..however, I have always thought there were a number of things that could be improved. At Virgin we began to look at how health and social care could be improved in the UK by drawing upon our experience from other parts of the Virgin family and focusing on what matters most to patients.'
I can’t say for sure whether I’d think it sensible to invoke memories of the dreaded East Coast Mainline when discussing a bid for NHS services but let's take Mr Branson at his word and put this to the test. Since Mr Branson’s Virgincare has become an increasingly dominant player in the children’s community services ‘market’, let’s think through how he might be drawing on the Virgin family to focus on patients.
So, let’s imagine that the Friday Surgery is looking to hire a child minder. Which child minder to use is never an easy choice with so much at stake. After all, you want someone who can come in and show your kids the care, patience and tenderness that you show them (but not so much that your own deficits as a parent are thrown into stark contrast). So we contact a few potential child minders and ask them to send through their CVs so that we can make an informed decision.
Amid a flurry of CVs this drops through the letter box.
CV – Sir Richard Branson, Virgincare
Position applied for- Friday Surgery child minder
Personal profile- I am an internationally successful blonde entrepreneur and philanthropist. As I show in my book, ‘Screw it, let’s do it’, I like to push boundaries and break records. When I push boundaries and break records people call it, ‘Classic Branson’ and, it’s true, it is classic me. I’m particularly skilled at moving into industries sheltered from too much competition, pulling big subsidies from taxpayers and then cashing out to go break records and be an adventurer. My latest exciting venture is Virgincare where I use my risk-taking fearlessness in order to make profits from vulnerable children who need health visiting, school nursing and other community services.
- made huge sums of money from public subsidies to my Virgin train operating company. Between 1997 and 2012 on the West Coast Mainline, Virgin Trains paid out £500m in dividends having received a public subsidy of £2.5bn. Classic Branson.
- making even bigger profits from hidden rail subsidies that the public doesn’t know about.
-running a cable TV company that kids use to watch TV. Evidence of my commitment to children.
- started an international illuminati group called ‘The Elders’ with Peter Gabriel. Nobody noticed.
- Winning legally unlawful contracts for children’s community services in Devon.
- Being awarded NHS contracts over £1bn and being registered in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.
- Not only managing not to pay tax now, but also managing not to pay any tax for the foreseeable future too.
- managing to not get awarded a contract in Bristol on account of our allergy to paying tax (don’t worry, CCG rules banning tax dodging companies are currently being deleted. One of my crowning achievements!).
- Being over-reliant on locum GPs in our practices and telling people we’ll extend opening hours and then, like the fearless risk taker that I am, not extending them.
- My company Virgincare repeatedly missed targets on the number of people screened for chlamydia and told staff to take home testing kits to use on friends and family to help make the numbers up.
- Using unqualified receptionists to triage patients. The consequences can be fatal but you don’t half make a buck.
- ….even though the CQC said two months before the death that they were concerned about ‘someone with a serious illness being wrongly streamed’. Hey, sue me, I’m a risk-taker.☺
- Making a legal challenge to Hull CCG and hence making a cash-strapped commissioning group undertake a hyper-expensive four stage procurement process that will leave people in Hull with less to spend on their healthcare. On the plus side we’ll get a contract and contracts mean dividends!
- getting huge health contracts for children’s community health services.
- making a profit by cutting staff pay and lowering standards of care.
- taking risks and pushing limits, especially in hot air balloons.
- being blonde.
- pretending to be the NHS by having our outlets use the NHS logo.
- building a business empire on taxpayer’s money.
- not paying tax.
Hobbies and interests
I like trying to break records in hot air balloons and boats and things like kite surfs. Me and hundreds of kitesurfers broke two world records in one day recently- for the largest parade of kitesurfers to complete a one-mile surf and for the most inane and pointless thing that a bunch of humans could do. A big passion of mine is also trying to get to space. And using the tax I don’t pay by trying to help celebrities like Justin Bieber and Katy Perry get into space too because, like me, they like to push the envelope. It is important to me that I maximise profits and tax savings from my companies so that I can help multi-millionaires feel like astronauts.
Department of Health
London SW1A 2NS
105 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QT
I’m guessing most prospective parents might look at that little lot of ‘Classic Bransons’ and think twice before letting ‘the Virgin Family’ look after their little ones.
At the moment though that’s exactly what Branson’s Virgincare is doing - scouring the country and procuring some of the most essential community services for our children and young people.
Richard Branson’s Virgincare has already managed to get hold of too many children’s community services across the country. Let’s stop him getting any more.
We can start with Sussex.
If you are from Brighton & Hove please consider signing this petition and if not please share with anyone who is
NHA's 'Friday Surgery' is a satirical blog written by Dr Carl Walker who is a member of the party's executive committee.