Virgin has added a healthcare arm to its empire after taking a controlling stake in an NHS walk-in centre operator.
The company, headed by billionaire tycoon Richard Branson, has bought a 75.1% share in Assura, which owns doctors' surgeries across the country and operates a number of pharmacies within clinics, for £4m.
The deal saw Assura then loan £4m back to the business in exchange for a 24.9% share of the new venture, which will operate as a network of GP Provider Organisations (GPCos)
A total of 30 GPCos provide healthcare in partnership with groups of GPs. They represent associations with more than 1,500 GPs, employ around 150 staff and provide services to more than three million patients in England.
Assura said the services offer choice to patients, are often outside normal working hours and are operated with "strict quality assurance mechanisms".
The company added it would now focus on its core property and pharmacy activities, which were not included in the sale.