A five-year contract to run the NHS 111 service and out of hours urgent primary care services in Norfolk and the Wisbech area of Cambridgeshire has been awarded to an experienced social enterprise, called IC24.
IC24 provides the NHS 111 and OOH service in Great Yarmouth and Waveney, and in South Essex. It also runs the NHS 111 service within North Essex along with primary care out of hours services throughout Northamptonshire, Kent, Sussex and East Surrey.
IC24 is a Community Interest Company which is owned by its staff members and invests any surplus income back into patient care and frontline services. It is deeply rooted in the NHS, starting out over twenty years ago as an out of hours GP co-operative.
IC24 will take charge of the NHS 111 and OOH services in Norfolk and the Wisbech area after the August Bank Holiday (2015). It will work closely with NHS Commissioners and with the current provider, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, to ensure there is a smooth handover.
Dr Victoria Stanley, from NHS Norwich CCG, said: “We are pleased to appoint a well known and experienced NHS-based social enterprise to run our NHS 111 and Out of Hours services. These are important local services provided by local doctors, nurses and clerical staff, whose expertise will continue to be very highly valued and appreciated.”
“Our priority, always, is to ensure our local residents in Wisbech have access to safe, good quality services and receive compassionate care and we look forward to working with IC24 as a proven, experienced provider.”
Lorraine Gray, IC24’s Managing Director said: "As a clinically led organisation – I am still a nurse and a former A&E Matron – our aim is to provide the best care we can for our patients, thus maintaining the ethos of the NHS. We are fortunate to have been able to do this within the Great Yarmouth & Waveney area already and the strong relationships that have been built there, particularly with the ambulance service, will no doubt ensure patients continue to receive a high level of care.
“We are an independently accredited social enterprise - a not-for-profit company – with our roots, clinical backgrounds and operations firmly planted in the NHS. So any surplus we make across all of our operations in the UK are ploughed back into enhancing care for our patients.”
For patients, there should be no changes at all – they will still be able to phone 111 for advice and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If they need to see a doctor or nurse out of normal GP Practice hours, the trained, local NHS 111 staff will arrange an appointment there and then. The local bases will continue - fixed bases in Norwich, Kings Lynn, North Walsham, Thetford, Wisbech and part time bases at Long Stratton, Dereham and Fakenham.
Staff who currently work in the NHS 111 and Out of Hours GP services in Norfolk will be offered the opportunity to transfer to IC24 under TUPE regulations, which means their NHS pay and conditions are protected. A new call centre in Norwich is being planned, providing a pleasant, new working environment.
Doctors and nurses who currently work in the Out of Hours service will be able to continue their shifts as usual, with IC24.
NHS 111 and the Primary Care Out of Hours service in Norfolk (excluding Great Yarmouth and Waveney) are currently provided by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST). EEAST’s contract is due to expire at the end of August and – as required by legislation - the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups for Norwich, North South and West Norfolk tendered the new contract.
Some patients in the Wisbech area – in particular those who use Clarkson Surgery, North Brink Practice, Parson Drove and Trinity Surgery - often use services in West Norfolk such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn. For this reason, the NHS Local Clinical Commissioning Group for Wisbech decided to join with the Norfolk service, following a public consultation.
Patients were involved in the procurement process. They were able to question those organisations which showed an interest in running the contract, during a bidders day held in 2014.
Bids to run the services were then carefully evaluated, with up to 70% of the ‘scoring’ given for the quality of the service proposed and the remaining 30% based on financial considerations. A patient representative, identified by Norfolk Healthwatch, was part of the evaluation panel.