Our Section 172 Statement
General confirmation of Directors’ duties
Section 172 of the Companies Act 2006 requires Directors to take into consideration the interests of stakeholders in their decision making; the Board of Virgin Care confirm that they have adhered to section 172 obligations and welcome the opportunity to demonstrate how this has been achieved in the last year.
The likely consequences of any decision in the long term
The Directors have a number of ways in which they ensure that any decision made takes consideration of the long-term impact it may have, examples of which include:
Delegation of Authority
As detailed in the Wates Statement the Virgin Care Board has a comprehensive framework for determining matters requiring Board review and approval and those day to day decisions delegated to employees, through the Scheme of Reservation and Delegation (“SORD”). Decisions reserved to the Board include changes to the strategy and approval of new contracts above a certain value, which are likely to have a material effect on the company. Any decision made considers both the short and long-term impact on the organisation and stakeholders. The Board also has committees which have clear terms of reference, the authority to approve significant new policies and, in terms of the Remuneration Committee, any changes to remuneration and incentive structures.
Assessing new contracts
As set out in the principal activities section of the strategic report (LINK HERE), Virgin Care delivers health and social care services, holding contracts with over 40 public authorities. When tendering for contracts the Board has processes in place to consider the long term impact, both on the services being tendered for and the organisation as a whole. Decisions on whether to proceed are reserved to the Board and, in making them, they consider the impact that taking on a new service would have across all stakeholders including, but not limited to, patients and the community the services would be delivered to, staff delivering services and the commissioners. To ensure all risks are considered the Board reviews potential submissions against bidding criteria, which is a risk template that allows Directors to determine where a risk is too high and consider ways in which it can be mitigated. If the risks cannot be mitigated the decision will be made to no longer pursue the submission. A section of the strategic report on principal risks and uncertainties highlights those risk areas which are prioritised to ensure controls are in place.
The organisational strategy is set by the Board and, as highlighted in the ‘Wates Statement- principle 4’, a 3-year strategy was approved in 2019-20. When developing the strategy, the Board considered the current position of the business and the potential risks and opportunities to delivering the strategy. As an organisation delivering health and social care services, we are exposed to governmental policy changes. All strategies are reviewed annually to ensure external changes do not inhibit our ability to deliver. Where that is the case the strategy will be reviewed, and contingencies put in place to address any new risks.
The strategy is broken down into annual critical projects which focus on key areas of development for that year. This allows for incremental steps to be taken to deliver the long term strategy; critical projects include things such as ‘brilliant basics’, which focuses on improving the foundations of the organisation, to support the delivery of service transformation and the long term strategy.
The interests of the company’s employees
The Board ensures that employees’ interests are always at the forefront of deliberations. Examples of how they keep employees engaged and consider them when making decisions are highlighted below.
Colleagues are kept up to date with all key information systematically, providing assurance on any areas of concern. More generally, the intranet includes updates on all relevant matters, allowing colleagues to find the information they need. In addition to this, weekly management updates provide key information to all managers; which are cascaded to teams. Local newsletters provide more localised updates to teams.
Colleagues are asked for feedback in an annual staff survey, the principal aim of which is to understand areas of concern. The results are reviewed at an executive level and plans are put in place to address areas requiring improvement. ‘Check-ins’ are held throughout the year to review progress of plans.
Colleagues are empowered to question and challenge and if there are concerns about something at work we encourage and support them to speak up. To make this as easy as possible we have Freedom to Speak up Guardians providing independent and impartial advice and an anonymous online reporting system.
Directors engage with colleagues across the organisation, regularly making visits to local teams to get a better understanding of the services delivered and the impact Board decisions have on colleagues. These visits help to have regard to the interests of colleagues when making decisions.
Where decisions are being made that affect the interests of employees, we ensure that employee representatives are involved. An example of this is e-rostering, where Virgin Care rolled out electronic rostering to more than 100 services, helping support more flexible working and cutting down on administrative time. To deliver this, colleague representatives from the teams that would be using the system were recruited to the project team, ensuring they had input into how it was set up and could bring ideas and concerns.
Objectives, appraisals and development
A rigorous approach is taken to objective setting and appraisals, ensuring all colleagues’ objectives are linked to organisational objectives and that each and every colleague has the opportunity to talk about delivery of their objectives and their personal development twice a year. Colleagues are kept informed of the organisational performance against its objectives through a management cascade of information following the monthly Board meeting.
The Learning Enterprise (TLE) is Virgin Care’s training and development arm, delivering clinical and non-clinical training and development programmes for health and care professionals. TLE delivers everything from mandatory training on lifting and handling patients and equipment, to delivering vocational courses accredited by Universities to help colleagues take on new challenges across the health and care service.
The need to foster the company’s business relationships with suppliers, customers and others
As highlighted in the Wates Statement principle 6, Virgin Care has a wide range of stakeholders who are key to delivering the strategy and providing first class care. Examples of some of our stakeholders and how we engage with them are:
Service users: Involving service users in their own care and in service developments is a vital part of the Virgin Care change framework; ensuring services accurately reflect the needs of patients and creating a positive user experience where people really do “feel the difference”. Colleagues seek patient feedback daily, encouraging them to input into their own care and the performance of services. In addition, feedback is gathered through the NHS Friends and Family Test and other initiatives such as comment boxes, the Customer Services function, social media and review websites such as NHS Choices and Care Opinion and proactively through Service User Involvement Programmes operated in services.
CQC and Ofsted: As a provider of health and social care, Care Quality Commission standards must be met. We run our own internal inspections and have robust online governance and reporting systems to monitor how services are doing. We work in a collaborative and transparent manner with our regulators to enable good service user outcomes. Governance and effective communication are key in fostering these relationships. The openness and cooperativity of this relationship is set by the tone at Executive level where there is continuous engagement with the regulators. This is reflected locally, where registered managers maintain relationships with inspectors.
Constituency MPs in areas served: MPs play an important role in their local communities, particularly championing the needs of the area and their active involvement, and support of, transformation of the services we operate is crucial in ensuring services are maintained. We exchanged correspondence with MPs representing the constituencies we served on more than 100 occasions each year, mostly about specific matters raised by constituents. In addition, we aim to send regular updates to each MP – either by letter or newsletter – sharing developments in services and seek to meet with MPs on an annual basis to discuss the work we have done, local developments and to hear feedback.
The impact of the company’s operations on the community and the environment
Delivering high quality services for communities is what we do as an organisation. We are therefore very conscious of the impact we make in communities where we deliver services and understand the importance of focusing not just on the services we deliver, but also on the communities we serve. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach; instead we tailor our services to each of the areas we work in, partnering with commissioners, colleagues and local people and organisations to deliver a unique service, based around the needs of the local community.
Working closely with commissioners, colleagues and the communities we serve we have invested in creating joined-up services where patients don’t have to keep telling their story each time they visit, introducing technology which means more time spent with the people who rely on the services we look after and empowering our colleagues with the ‘Feel the Difference’ fund – dedicated money, owned by our colleagues, to help make the big and small changes which mean that everyone feels the difference.
We recognise that sustainable development is a critical factor in being able to deliver world class healthcare, both now and in the future. We are therefore dedicated to creating and embedding efficient and sustainable models of care throughout our operations and our estates, ensuring they are as resilient as they possibly can be.
We are also conscious of the amount of waste that can be produced by health and care organisations and, to address this, we are continuously identifying ways to be more efficient and sustainable in the way we procure. For example, reducing the number of suppliers that we use for the same products allows us to monitor and reduce both our waste and the waste in our supply chains.
As an organisation that provides services across the country, we ensure that we make it possible, where appropriate, for our colleagues to work remotely, prioritising the adoption of technologies which reduce the requirement on travel and therefore improve our carbon footprint.
During 2019-20 we undertook a review of our lease cars and have a plan in place to make changes to our lease car policy, part of which is to make the fleet of cars we offer greener by adding hybrid and electric cars and removing diesel.
Apprenticeships and social mobility
We’re committed to the future of healthcare in Britain by our ongoing recruitment of apprentices – a tried and tested way to recruit, retrain and upskill our colleagues. This helps in tackling any skill shortages while also enabling us to tailor our workforces to the specific needs of our services. We launched our Apprentice Programme in 2017 and, since then, we have grown to offer several varying schemes, an example of which is our Nursing Degree Apprenticeship, which is helping aspiring nurses earn while they learn.
As a forward-thinking employer who has signed the social mobility pledge and vowed to help those from all backgrounds start and build a great career, we have lots of opportunities, from entry level programmes through to senior degree apprenticeships. Quality is essential to apprenticeships and the vast majority of our programmes are delivered in-house by our training division, TLE.
The desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct
Below we have selected a few areas that demonstrate how we have maintained these high standards:
We work closely with our Commissioners and believe having strong relationships is fundamental to delivering high quality services. These relationships are built at bidding stage and continue all the way through the life of the contract. We have regular meetings and dedicated contract managers to support in the delivery. All those Commissioners who have had the option to extend the services we deliver have opted to do so; without maintaining those relationships throughout, this would not have been the case.
As a data controller we have a legal and ethical duty to keep the records we hold confidential. The confidentiality and security of information is very important to us. We take the utmost care when handling personal and confidential information and ensure that we have appropriate organisational and technical security measures in place to prevent unauthorised access, accidental damage, destruction or loss. Examples of how we do this include: Induction and annual refresher Information Governance training of staff to understand their duty of confidentiality and their responsibilities regarding data security and confidentiality of patient and other personal data; annual completion and submission of the NHS Digital’s Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT); ensuring that data protection by design and default is built into our processes, completing due diligence and imposing contractual obligations on providers and persons working under our instruction.
As a Board we are committed to closing the gender pay gap in our organisation, the current overall pay gap is 23.23% and we have a number of measures in place to continue to reduce this, including promoting female representation in senior positions, leadership development through apprenticeship schemes and learning interventions and training to mitigate against unconscious bias in recruitment processes. More information can be found here.
In November 2020, we as a Board approved the annual Modern Slavery Act Statement. The statement can be found here. Virgin Care is committed to observing high ethical standards and does this not only to comply with laws and regulations but also because we want to earn and maintain the trust of our service users, colleagues and partners. We believe that success and reputation is not only dependent on the quality of the services we deliver, but also on the way we do business. We share the majority of our supply chain with the state-operated NHS, and all organisations supplying the NHS are subject to the NHS Code of Conduct on Ethics and Labour.
Our frontline teams are trained to appropriate levels in Safeguarding for their role, and this training – which is completed annually – includes material on identifying signs of modern slavery and human trafficking among the people who use the services we run.
As a private company we have a small number of shareholders, the majority shareholder being represented with seats on the Board. All decisions made have due regard to all members of the company.