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Community services contract passes from Virgin back to NHS

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A partnership involving an acute trust and local GPs has been chosen as the preferred bidder to run community nursing services in part of Surrey, at the expense of the current independent provider.

The decision, which will see adult community services change provider, was announced on 10 October by Guildford and Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group.

“This model of patient-centred care supports better integration”

Vicky Stobbart

The move also represents the first time in the UK that a community service will be provided by a partnership comprising local GPs and a hospital trust – pending the finalising of the contract.

Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Procare GP Federation will now enter into contract negotiations to deliver adult community services for the Guildford and Waverley area.

The trust and Procare, a federation of local GPs, teamed up to bid for the contract, which will last up to nine years and will bring together services to hopefully ensure best patient care and outcomes.

Under their partnership agreement, Royal Surrey will be the lead provider of all services from the start of the contract.

“This is the first time that a community service will be provided in this way in the UK”

Phil Ridsdill

The new partnership should see community teams working much more closely with both hospital and primary care services in the area, in line with national policy on integrating care models.

According to the CCG, the new service model “focuses on increasing integration across pathways of care, reducing complexity of services whilst wrapping them around primary care”.

In addition, it will increase a “joined-up approach to delivering social care and other services as well as developing innovative ways of working with partners”.

“At the heart of the model is the provision of an alternative to hospital stay,” it said in its statement announcing the awarding of the contract.

The CCG added that looked forward to working with the Royal Surrey County Hospital to “mobilise” the new service over the next six months.

Vicky Stobbart, the CCG’s executive nurse and director of quality and safeguarding, said: “This model of patient-centred care supports better integration, ensuring the delivery of innovative, quality driven care to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in Guildford and Waverley.”

The partnership itself has also pledged to continue to work with other “key stakeholders” to ensure health, social care and the third sector services are accessible and allow delivery of “seamless care”.

“I know what a wonderful and positive impact these teams have on patients”

Paula Head

In particular, the trust and federation said they looked forward to working more closely with Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust in the delivery of mental health.

They added that they also planned to integrate their services more with Surrey County Council and adult social care teams, reflecting a growing relationship through the Surrey devolution process.

There are already a number of planned improvements for the services, including the implementation of a single patient care IT system, said the partnership in a statement.

Royal Surrey chief executive Paula Head said: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for us and our partners to integrate services across our patch to make patients’ lives better.

“Having led a community trust previously, I know what a wonderful and positive impact these teams have on patients and I look forward to welcoming our new staff in the near future,” she said.

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Royal Surrey County Hospital

Phil Ridsdill Smith, chief executive of Procare, said: “This is the first time that a community service will be provided in this way in the UK and it represents a huge opportunity to deliver more integrated and efficient patient care to the population that we both serve.”

The announcement this week potentially brings to a close a process that has been under way since early last year, when an invitation for bids to provide the service was published by the CCG in March 2016.  

In August that year, Virgin Care, in partnership with Royal Surrey County, Surrey and Borders, Age UK and the county council, were named as the preferred provider for services in Guildford and Waverley.

However, mobilisation of the plans, which were due to start in April this year, were halted in February when the CCG became concerned about slow progress and that the providers would be unable to implement the new services specification in the integrated way “identified in their bid submission”.

The latest development will also see the Virgin Care, which had provided both children’s and adults’ services across western Surrey since 2012, potentially reduced to just adult services in just one part of the county.

The company currently provides adult community services in Surrey Health and Farnham – which although in Surrey falls under North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG.

Adult community services in North West Surrey – also part of the original Virgin Care contract – were awarded to social enterprise CSH Surrey, which took over in April 2017.

The county-wide contract for children’s services, which Virgin Care previously held in the west of the county, was awarded to Surrey and Borders Partnership and CSH plus another social enterprise, First Community Health Care, bidding under the name Surrey Healthy Children and Families Service.

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