MPs should investigate how Richard Branson Virgin empire has been awarded nearly £2bn of NHS contracts in the last five years, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Monday 6 August). 

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, called on Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the health and social care select committee, to examine how Virgin and other private healthcare companies have acquired such a plethora of NHS contracts.

This follows media reports on the scale of Virgin’s business activities in relation to the NHS

The key issues for Unite were the lack of transparency in how these contracts were awarded and whether they offer value for money for the taxpayer.

Unite head of health Sarah Carpenter said: “The Commons health and social care select committee should investigate how Richard Branson’s Virgin empire has gobbled up nearly £2bn of NHS contracts in the last five years.

“With the spectre of Carillion still haunting the public sector the select committee needs to urgently examine whether the NHS and taxpayer is getting value for money from Virgin Care accumulating so many health service contracts. 

“The scope of such an inquiry should be widened out to look at private healthcare companies, and the scale and scope of their involvement in the NHS generally as well as the potential impacts and risks that this may have.

“MPs should ask for more transparency and openness into how Virgin has stealthily become one of the UK’s leading healthcare providers. There is a level of opaqueness about how these contracts are awarded that is worrying.

“The privatisation of the NHS has little to do with improving patient care, and everything to the right-wing ideology that lauds the private sector and disregards the public service ethos underpinning the NHS.

“Unfortunately, there is little indication currently from the new health and social care secretary Matt Hancock that the direction of travel regarding NHS privatisation will be reversed. 

“Patient care should not be put up for auction to private healthcare providers.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.