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Supporting health and care through the pandemic

We’re part of the NHS family, delivering publicly funded health and care services since 2010, and we’ve continued to work together with the NHS and with Local Authorities through the national response to the pandemic in 2020 and into 2021.

Supporting the NHS

 As the UK’s hospitals, private and public, come together as one to increase capacity and manage the recovery from the pandemic, we’ve been in collaboration with local NHS systems to increase capacity in our community services, allowing people to return home from hospital with support or allowing people to stay at home.

We have:

  • Kept our services running, including Health Visiting and School Nursing services, using a combination of virtual and face to face appointments.
  • Re-deployed our colleagues to support the national vaccination programme, supporting the Government’s targets for reaching vulnerable groups
  • Continued operating our community services in line with the NHS England Community Services Prioritisation Plan at each phase of the response, freeing up colleagues to work on priority services – but also ramping up capacity for patients to be discharged into the community
  • Created additional capacity in our community and district nursing services, meaning more people can be cared for at home – reducing pressure on hospitals – and supporting terminally ill patients with end of life care and ensuring their dignity is maintained;
  • Opened our community hospital wards for ‘step down’ care, supporting our local acute hospitals to free up bed space for COVID-19 patients;
  • Supported our partners in systems, re-deploying colleagues to other providers and services so that critical NHS services could continue to meet patients’ needs throughout.

Supporting our colleagues

Our colleagues, whether they work in NHS services, local authority services or social care, are our priority and keeping them safe and supporting them to continue to be part of the national response to this pandemic is of the utmost importance to us.

We have:

  • Kept Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) flowing to where it was needed throughout. We’ve delivered more than 3 million items of PPE into our services, allowing our colleagues to wear the PPE recommended by Public Health England for whatever they’re doing.
  • Provided access to testing and vaccines – our colleagues who can’t work from home are using Lateral Flow Tests twice a week like other health and care staff to reduce nosocomial infection, and we’ve worked with our NHS system partners to ensure every colleague is offered a vaccine appointment before 15 February 2021.
  • Delivered more than 200 new laptops into services, enabling colleagues to keep supporting services from home – including with new initiatives like our virtual care coordinaiton hub
  • Made our workplaces COVID secure, introduced strict social distancing audits and made sure that as many colleagues as possible can work from home
  • Enhanced our wellbeing offer – with additional support and help face to face, online and by telephone and video call. We’ve re-launched MyWellness, funded colleague-backed wellbeing initiatives such as VirgIncredibles and introduced new support such as Wellbeing Wednesdays and targeted support for the small number of colleagues diagnosed with COVID-19 and those who have been sadly lost someone important to them.
  • Kept in touch – a dedicated group have synthesised guidance and advice, changing policy and kept in touch through regular communications while our leadership team have published regular videos and even sent cards to our colleagues’ homes to say thank you.

After spending 37 years in NHS and 3 years of delivering NHS services through Virgin Care I am proud of everyone here who delivers high quality patient services.

Photograph of Julie Harrington

I work for Virgin Care and during this crisis they have been amazing!

Supporting our communities

Our colleagues and the services we run are at the heart of communities across England, from Devon to Teesside, from Kent to Lancashire and everywhere in-between and we’re committed to continuing to support communities through this outbreak.

We’ve worked with partners to launch new services such as the Compassionate Communities Hub in B&NES, and developed new programmes like Coping with COVID and our virtual breastfeeding clinics and across the country we’ve continued to support hundreds of people to stay home, or to get home from hospital more quickly after an illness through services such as District Nursing, Rapid Response and Reablement with new models like our ActNowHomeFirst programme Homeward.

And, as well as launching our Social Mobility Pledge Opportunity Action Plan which showed how important families services will be after the pandemic, we also continued to support our workforce of apprentices with 33 passes since March 2020 and launched the UK’s first virtual student nurse placement through our learning and development arm The Learning Enterprise.

Supporting Virgin Group

We’re part of the 70,000-strong Virgin Family which covers the globe, and we’re working with the Virgin Group to respond to the pandemic.

We have worked with Virgin Unite and Virgin Atlantic to arrange cargo flights bringing the NHS vital supplies, and colleagues whose normal jobs are disrupted by the pandemic are working to support the NHS and in our services.

And our colleagues at Virgin Atlantic are supporting NHS services through volunteering directly with the NHS and through Virgin Care.

Our regional response

Each of our services is working closely with its local health and social care providers to contribute to the local response. This is just a flavour of what we're doing.

Lancashire

  • We’ve trained more than 110 colleagues from our Lancashire Young Person and Families service so that they can be ready to support unplanned and urgent care services across the country, including in our West Lancashire service, keeping vital NHS services operating.
  • We’ve launched a virtual Single Point of Access in our Lancashire Young Person and Families service, with colleagues working remotely to continue to accept and process requests for help from doctors, families and teachers.
  • In West Lancashire, our Urgent Care team partnered with local GPs to provide additional services at our two Urgent Care centres and re-laucnhed an improved Out of Hours GP service meaning people can still access support and care 24/7 throughout the pandemic.
  • We’re delivering virtual consultations and group sessions across Lancashire. This includes a suite of group sessions for families including topics such as infant feeding, moving on to solid foods, baby communication and speech and language, emotional well-being, settling in to school and night-time wetting, which have already supported more than 350 families.
  • We developed an enhanced discharge planning service, running 7 days a week from 8am-8pm, with a single point of contact e-mail address and phone number, to support our local NHS Trust get people out of hospital and supported to return living at home
  • We sourced and implemented an assistive technology service on behalf of NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group to help vulnerable people access equipment to help them stay safe at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bath and North East Somerset

  • We’ve redeployed more than 130 colleagues from our non-critical services to keep critical services across the area operating, or to expand their capacity.
  • We’re supporting our third sector partners, care homes and primary care services with access to Personal Protective Equipment, and with supporting communities through initiatives like the Compassionate Communities Hub which our wellbeing service is hosting.
  • We’ve worked with partners to get people home from hospital, supported as soon as possible in line with NHS England’s Hospital Discharge Service Document – a reduction of more than three quarters of “super stranded” patients, and reducing delayed transfers of care from our local acute and our community hospitals to 0.

Primary Care Services

  • We’ve increased our virtual GP consultations by 80%, supporting continued access to General Practice for people with illness other than COVID-19, while following Government guidance on social distancing and continuing to support vulnerable patients.
  • We’ve expanded capacity where we can – for example, our Luton Integrated Care Service is supporting the wider health and social care system by changing to work 8am to 8pm 7 days a week, and introducing new initiatives like the MSK Assist app which supports patients to access support and guidance from home.
  • We’ve transformed our walk-in centres to support local responses. For example, in Reading we’ve transformed the walk-in centre into a respiratory hub which is seeing patients with suspected COVID-19 symptoms while our GP service continues to operate from another site.

Wiltshire

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