Virgin Health suing NHS for contractual rights

Today's (13th March 2017) HSJ headline:

"Virgin Care starts legal proceedings against NHS: Virgin has launched legal proceedings against eight NHS commissioners after losing a bid for a £82m children’s community services contract"

As usual the details in the article are behind a paywall, but it is extremely likely that this story is about Bristol CCG's decision in 2015 not to award a contract for children's community health services to Virgin Health but instead to a community interest group. In February 2016 Bristol CCG deleted a rule in their constitution permitting them to not award to companies who avoided tax, after it was questioned during the tender process. Lawyers for the CCG reportedly feared that the rule discriminates against companies that are legally avoiding tax, thus allowing them to sue the NHS if they do not win the contract. There are a number of CCGs that have been forced to reconsider this type of clause in their constitution.

See The Independent article of 8th Feb 2016:

The difference between "legally" and "illegally" avoiding tax is a fine one and a paradise for lawyers.

To non-lawyers it is outrageous that the CCG is being restrained from insisting that the company awarded a contract behaves ethically. The NHS should be allowed to behave ethically -  it is THE public service with a conscience!

Such horrors will happen increasingly because the HSCA 2012 opened the awarding of service contracts to "any qualified provider". CCGs who attempt to keep their relationships with previous providers intact are in an increasingly perilous position.