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Care UK wins contract for urgent care service across Suffolk and north east Essex

PUBLISHED: 18:11 22 June 2018

Dr Mark Shenton says the new service will ease pressure on GP surgeries and hospitals Picture: PAGEPIX

Dr Mark Shenton says the new service will ease pressure on GP surgeries and hospitals Picture: PAGEPIX

A private company has been awarded a five-year contract to run the NHS 111 helpline and out of hours services in Suffolk and north east Essex.

Care UK will take on the “enhanced integrated urgent care service” from November 1, 2018.

As part of the new contract, it is hoped more people who phone the 111 non-emergency line will have a consultation with an appropriate clinician first time and receive either advice, a prescription sent direct to their pharmacy or an appointment for treatment.

This should reduce pressure on other health services as people will have their problems resolved right away, leaders say.

To achieve this ambition, the service will be boosted with additional health staff including advanced nurse practitioners, pharmacists, dental nurses and mental health and palliative care specialists.

By the end of 2017/18 leaders hope more than 50% of calls to 111 will involve a clinical consultation over the phone.

The out of hours service in Suffolk will be delivered by Care UK in partnership with Suffolk GP Federation.

Care UK already runs these services in these areas, apart from the 111 helpline in north-east Essex which is currently delivered by IC24.

This move is part of efforts led by the Suffolk and North East Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) to improve and join up care services.

The contract was awarded by the Ipswich and East Suffolk, West Suffolk and North East Essex NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) following a tendering process.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, 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 Lorna Burn, a GP at Mayflower Medical Centre in Dovercourt and North East Essex CCG lead for the contract tender, said: “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.”

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