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NHS set to take back Suffolk community services from Serco

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Three NHS trusts have been named as the preferred bidders to take over community services in Suffolk from outsourcing giant Serco.

West Suffolk Foundation NHS Trust, Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust will jointly run community services in the region from October.

The trio were selected from a formal procurement process after submitting a joint bid.

The announcement was made yesterday by West Suffolk, and Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning groups.

“We will be working with the current provider and the new providers to ensure a smooth and seamless transfer of services”

Julian Herbert

Commissioners have not disclosed the value of the 12-month contract. However, they revealed it “will be more than the previous contract value”, which was worth £140m over three years.

The contract could be extended for another 12 months if there is mutual agreement. It covers community services, specialist children’s services and community hospitals across a population of 600,000.

Serco was awarded a three-year contract to take over nearly all community services in 2012 by Suffolk Primary Care Trust. It is due to end on 30 September.

As previously reported by Nursing Times, workforce concerns were raised in regards to the service, including the cutting of posts and then, latterly, recruitment problems.

The CCGs said they “do not anticipate any job losses” and services would “remain as they are currently commissioned, apart from minor changes to accommodate additional need”.

“We will be able to break down the organisational barriers that can get in the way of great patient care”

Stephen Dunn

Julian Herbert, the accountable officer for the two CCGs, said: “Over the coming months we will be working with the current provider and the new providers to ensure a smooth and seamless transfer of services.”

West Suffolk chief executive Stephen Dunn said the announcement of supported long-term plans to deliver “the highest quality health service through integrated working”.

“By providing a more joined-up service we will be able to break down the organisational barriers that can get in the way of great patient care,” he said.

Ipswich Hospital chief executive Nick Hulme said the move “brings a new era to the way in which we can provide seamless care in the hospital and in the community”.

“We are breaking new ground in the way we have worked with our partners in putting together our proposal,” he added.

Abi Tierney, Serco’s development director, said she was “immensely proud of the team in Suffolk and of the work they have done over the past three years… despite the operational and financial challenges we have faced”. 

“Everyone has worked tirelessly to deliver that service and we will ensure that we go on doing so until the end of our contract this autumn so that we hand it over in excellent order to the new providers.”

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