A new partnership between Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (Shropcom) and the Shropshire Doctors Co-operative (Shropdoc) will go live on Monday (1 October) – with the launch of a new, revised GP-led out-of-hours service for the County.
Shropdoc have been the local providers of this service for a long time and have now entered into the new contract arrangement with the two commissioning bodies – Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups. The renewal comes in light of the recent changes required as a result of implementing NHS111 as the single number for people to use.
The new contract arrangements means patients will still be able to receive a service from Shropdoc out of hours, with the only significant change being the means of access. Contact now goes via NHS111, who took over the call and triage element of the integrated urgent care service in July.
Dr Simon Chapple, Medical Director of Shropdoc, said: “The partnership between Shropcom and Shropdoc will ensure the delivery of this service locally, by two organisations that have years of experience of providing excellent, high quality healthcare. The partnership aims to develop other services in the future that equally benefit the population of Shropshire.
“Our locally focussed Integrated Urgent Care Service, led by local GPs and Community staff, will draw on the expertise and shared resources of local Emergency, General Practice and Hospital care providers, to ensure continued innovation.”
Ros Preen, Executive Lead for the partnership at Shropcom, added: “This joint working relationship will provide stability, preserving what is good about our Out of Hours services while providing greater opportunity for quality improvements, job and career pathway developments for our staff, and better outcomes for patients and their families.
“Both organisations already have a track record of working in partnership with the other health care and voluntary sector organisations in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, and expect this will only strengthen those ties, reducing duplication and handovers for patients.”
The new out-of-hours service will operate out of bases in Shrewsbury, Telford, Whitchurch and Ludlow. Bases in Oswestry and Bridgnorth will no longer be operational – though demand and access times will be closely monitored, while home visits will still be offered to all parts of the county for patients too ill or frail to travel.
Ros added: “It is important to note that there has been no change in the funding for the overall Integrated Urgent Care Service – made up of the call and triage service now provided by NHS111 and the GP out-of-hours service that, as of Monday, will be provided by our partnership with Shropcom. But there has, as a consequence, been a reduction in the funding for the local GP-led out-of-hours service to reflect this change and in order to ensure the overall model is still within budget.
“Decisions on which bases should not be retained as part of the new model were not taken lightly. They followed evidence-based research that analysed activity levels.
“A review of the proposed delivery model has been completed, which incorporated the expected impact of introducing the NHS111 service. This was informed by evidence from other areas where NHS111 has already been implemented, and has been done to ensure the service can continue to respond to demand whilst continuing to deliver clinically safe services to the population within the resources available.”
Dr Chapple said: “A six-month review period has been agreed between all parties to ensure that demand and access times for the population are regularly monitored. This is important to allow us to assess the impact the changes make, and ensure the new arrangements remain clinically safe.
“Patient representation will be included in this review process to provide their important perspective on how the service is performing. Commissioners and providers will also be providing updates to their public Board/Governing Body meetings.”
In a joint statement from Dr Julian Povey, Clinical Chair of Shropshire CCG, and Dr Jo Leahy, Clinical Chair of Telford &Wrekin CCG, they said: “We are delighted these two local providers are working together in partnership to provide the new out of hours component of our Integrated Urgent Care services with NHS 111, which will provide a high quality service for the people of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.”