Suffolk GP Federation awarded Integrated Urgent Care service contract

Suffolk GP Federation, in partnership with Care UK, have been awarded a five-year contract to deliver an enhanced integrated urgent care (IUC) service across east and west Suffolk and north east Essex.

The award of this contract follows a competitive tendering process and will see Care UK deliver the NHS 111 and out of hours services in north east Essex. In east and west Suffolk, Care UK will deliver the NHS 111 service and the out of hours service will be delivered by Care UK, working in partnership with the Suffolk GP Federation.

In east and west Suffolk both services are currently delivered by Care UK. In north east Essex NHS 111 is currently delivered by IC24 and the out of hours service by Care UK.

These services will be delivered to the 950,000 population across the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) area.

As part of the new contract the IUC service, which is staffed by fully-trained health care advisors, will be enhanced with additional specialist clinicians including advanced nurse practitioners, pharmacists, dental nurses and mental health and palliative care specialists. The aim is for as many people as possible who call NHS 111 to have a consultation with an appropriate clinician the first time they call and receive either advice, a prescription sent direct to their pharmacy of choice or a booking made direct for further assessment or treatment. By the end of 2017/18 it is expected that more than 50% of calls to NHS 111 will involve a clinical consultation over the ‘phone.

The new contract will begin on November 1 2018 and has been awarded by NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk, NHS West Suffolk and NHS North East Essex clinical commissioning groups.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and Chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The award of this contract represents a major step forward in how people are able to access health services. By making it as easy as possible to access advice from the most appropriate health care professional we can help people get better more quickly and free up the resources of our GP practices and hospitals.”

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP in Long Melford and Chairman of NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I welcome the award of this contract and look forward to seeing the benefits of easier access to help and advice for those people with less serious medical needs.”

Dr Lorna Burn, a GP at Mayflower Medical Centre in Dovercourt and NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group lead for the contract tender, said: “The new service will provide an integrated and more patient friendly experience. Now many patients across north east Essex will have their needs resolved by a clinician in a single call to 111. The aim is that patients will not need to repeat their information several times to different healthcare providers.”

Sarah-Jane Graham, Care UK’s National Director for Integrated Urgent Care, said: “We are looking forward to working collaboratively with our commissioners and partner providers to mobilise the new integrated urgent care service.

“Our prior experience running NHS 111 and out of hours services in the region puts us in a very strong position to deliver joined-up and effective care that is responsive to the needs of local people.”

Paul Driscoll, Chairman and Medical Director of Suffolk GP Federation, said: “This is a very exciting partnership and one which I think makes a very positive statement about general practice in Suffolk.

“Suffolk out of hours will be a locally-run service, clinically led and staffed by local clinicians who have a tangible commitment to providing quality care.

“Our approach will be to have a simple clinical model that does the right thing for patients and staff – improving integration with daytime general practice and the wider health and social care system.”