Over 100,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Richard Branson to stop “dragging the NHS through the courts”, through his brand, Virgin Care.
The campaign organisation 38 degrees launched the petition after it was revealed that the Virgin Group had been awarded more than £3bn in health services contracts in the past five years.
It garnered 107,898 signatures in a matter of days.
The petition read; “Dear Richard Branson, I’ve seen the news that Virgin Care has been awarded £2 billion pounds of NHS contracts in the last few years. As if this wasn’t enough money, your business has also made millions of pounds worth of taxpayers money, by suing our NHS.
Enough is enough. Will you publicly commit to ending your approach of dragging our NHS through the courts for even more money? The British public wants the NHS to be spending money on healthcare, not costly court battles.”
Research by the NHS Support Foundation showed the Virgin group had accrued £1bn in NHS contracts in 2016/17 alone. However, it paid no corporation tax because the Virgin Care group parent company made losses of £19.3m.
Branson has claimed he does not make any money from this, but revenues recorded by subsidiary Virgin Care Services increased 50% in the last financial year, showing they made £8m in profit from NHS outsourcing.
In November 2017, the Virgin Care Group sued the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in Surrey after it lost out on an £82m contract to provide children’s health services across the country for an undisclosed amount, citing concerns over “serious flaws” in the way the contract was awarded. NHS Surrey Downs CCG initially disclosed that its liability in the case was £328,000 in its October public finance papers.
In February, a High Court judge temporarily blocked a council’s attempt to outsource a £100m contract for providing children’s health services to Virgin Care, because of the “considerable cost and disruption” it would cause the NHS and patients.
In June, a decision by Lancashire county council to award a £104m contract for children’s healthcare services to Virgin Care was blocked after a legal challenge by NHS trusts.
A Virgin Group spokesperson said: “Richard has not and does not intend to ever take a penny out of the NHS.”