Starting on 1 April next year, the contract brings together local NHS111, GP Out of Hours and GP extended access services in evenings and on weekends under one provider as an Integrated Urgent Care Service (IUC). They are currently provided by three separate organisations.

As part of the IUC model and in line with national guidance, the CCG has commissioned a Clinical Assessment service. At an early stage of the process as part of their contact with NHS111 and depending on patient’s health needs, they could speak directly to GPs, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and others in the contact centre. This will ensure a smooth and efficient patient journey and reduce pressure on A&E and ambulance services. Patients will receive the most appropriate care for their needs 24/7.

The move, which has been approved by the health service regulator NHS England, is designed to break the barriers between services and use resources more effectively. It will mean significant improvements for patients, including faster response times and clinical assessments.

“This is a completely new approach, bringing together three separate services for the benefit of patients. It will be planned around the needs of patients, giving them faster and seamless access to expert care and advice when they need it,” said CCG chief officer Andrew Geldard.

“The new IUC service will be supported by additional clinicians to give patients an immediate assessment of their problem and ensure they get the right help or treatment as quickly as possible. This includes advice for self-care, making a direct booking with a GP in the out of hours or extended access service, community health service, and electronic prescriptions.

“Bringing the out of hours GP service, the extended access GP service and the NHS111 service together will allow professionals to work more closely together. This will not only benefit patients, it will also help relieve pressures elsewhere in the NHS, such as in our busy A&E departments.

“We will be working closely with Herts Urgent Care over the coming months to ensure the new service gets off to a good start and West Essex residents notice the improvements straightaway.

“In the meantime I would like to place on record our sincere thanks to the current service providers, IC24 (NHS111), PELC (out of hours) and Stellar Healthcare (GP evenings and weekends). They have shown commitment– for which we, and I am sure many local patients, are extremely grateful.

David Archer, HUC CEO says

“We are delighted to be awarded the contract to work with West Essex CCG to deliver this enhanced service. As the first IUC provider in the country to establish a GP led 24/7 multi disciplinary clinical telephone assessment service we have seen an improvement in patient experience and the reduction of unnecessary demands of A&E and ambulance services.

We currently provide IUC services in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Luton & Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

We are looking forward to actively participating in the development and implementation of the shared strategy of integrated delivery of care in West Essex and working with all relevant professional teams, organisations and trusts within the west Essex health and social care system.

We will be working closely with the outgoing providers to ensure a smooth transition for patients to the new service”

More information about how the new service will work and the staff providing it will be given over the next few months.