NHS in east Kent to combine 111 and out of hours care

Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group


People in east Kent will benefit from a new integrated NHS 111 and GP-led out of hours service which also offers innovative support for patients with complex needs.

The new service combines 111, the NHS non-emergency number, with the out of hours service, providing care for patients who need to see a GP urgently when their practice is closed overnight or at the weekend.

This will be further enhanced with a care navigation service which will help patients with more complex needs remain at home where possible.

Care navigation involves healthcare professionals looking at the holistic health and wellbeing needs of a patient. They can make referrals to a number of different services for each patient, depending on their needs, such as to a district nurse to dress wounds and to an occupational therapist to carry out an equipment assessment.

Following a comprehensive and robust procurement process, the four clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) for east Kent have announced their intention to appoint Primecare to run the combined service from October.

Primecare has been picked for the new contract, which will run for three years with an option to extend for a further two, because it came top in a rigorous evaluation by patients and commissioners. This evaluation looked at safety, quality, service delivery and overall cost-effectiveness.

Primecare is an established provider of primary care across England and Wales, with significant experience in the provision of urgent and out of hours care. This includes running an NHS call centre and providing care navigation and primary care centres based at Accident and Emergency departments.

Currently there are two contracts in east Kent: one for emergency out of hours GP appointments at the weekends, evenings and bank holidays, run by IC24, and one for running NHS 111, the non-emergency NHS number. This is provided by South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

At the moment, people who are assessed by 111 as urgently needing to see a GP when their practice is closed are referred to the out of hours GP service. By combining both services into one and adding care navigators, it is anticipated that people will get the right care from the right person more quickly.

Care navigation

Dr Sarah Phillips, Chair of NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group which led the procurement for east Kent, said: “I am pleased to announce that, after a rigorous and thorough procurement process, we intend to award Primecare the contract to run the new East Kent Integrated Urgent Care Service.

“This new contract brings together and enhances separate services which will be of huge benefit to patients with more complex needs.  For example, if a patient requires both physical healthcare and mental health support, care navigation will be able to refer them to two or three different services to meet their needs, whereas 111 can currently only refer each patient to one place.

“Bringing the services together will help us to ensure they work seamlessly, reducing hand overs, cutting duplication and making sure patients have a better experience.

“A new call centre will be located in east Kent to receive calls made in east Kent. As time goes on it will be possible to include more local services. Based on appropriate assessment, patients will be signposted to the right place to meet their needs, offered clinical advice, given an appointment to see a clinician or visited at home.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the current providers of these services for all their hard work for the people of east Kent over the years.”

111 is the NHS non-emergency number, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It directs patients to the most appropriate place for treatment and, if necessary, arranges for a patient to see a doctor in the evenings or at the weekend.

Sara Doughty, Head of Urgent Care at Primecare, said: “Primecare is delighted to have been selected by the four east Kent clinical commissioning groups to run the NHS 111, GP out of hours and care navigation services.

“We have a strong track record of providing out of hours and urgent care services and, by working in partnership with the CCGs, our vision is to deliver high quality patient-centred care, which has a positive impact on health and wellbeing for all east Kent residents. Our immediate priority is to work with the CCGs and all other parties to ensure a smooth transition to the new service for staff and patients.”

The new service will be commissioned by the four east Kent clinical commissioning groups, which are NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group.

NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group 04 May 2016

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