City and Hackney Urgent Healthcare Social Enterprise (CHUHSE), a group of Hackney GPs, have been awarded a £6.4m contract to take back responsibility for out-of-hours care in East London.
City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) announced last Friday they were granting local GPs the four-year contract. This means local doctors will now be responsible for their patients both in hours and out-of-hours.
Their bid beat the one of private company Harmoni which is currently running the service.
CHUHSE was created in early 2012 as a response to growing concerns from locals that the quality of the out-of-hours services was not optimum. East London Lines previously reported that they then lost their first bid in early 2012 to take over the service, to the displeasure of Hackney’s Keep our NHS Public (KNP) members.
Locals were then encouraged to become members of CHUHSE in order to draw interest to it, as reported by ELL in January.
They launched a second campaign, and their bid was this time successful. Chief Executive of CHUHSE, Mark Cockerton said: “We have had a really positive response from the residents of City & Hackney. At the meetings we had with the Community it was clear we had great support for our proposed model of care, our not-for-profit principles and our City & Hackney focus. It was also clear that people cared about who was providing their out-of-hours care.”
The service aims to gain a good, strong relationship between local GPs and their patients. Dr Deborah Colvin, who led the campaign for CHUHSE, said: “It’s about local GPs being involved, people who understand that area and its GPs and actually get to know the basic patients in that area.”
Most shifts will be undertaken by GPs who live and work in the area, in order to better “care for the community,” said Cockerton.
Also speaking to ELL, is Dr Victoria Holt, CHUHSE Medical Director. She said: “We are enormously excited to have been awarded this contract. We have received support from almost all local practices and already GPs from a wide range of practices have signed up to work out of hours shifts for us.
“By harnessing this local experience and knowledge, we intend to provide a high quality and accessible service. Besides, CHUHSE is a social enterprise, meaning that every penny of the money provided by the CCG will be used to provide for that service.”
Dr Clare Highton, Chair of NHS City and Hackney CCG, welcomed the decision to appoint CHUHSE and added she “looks forward” to working with them to develop the service.
A spokesman for Harmoni said they will work closely with the new provider to ensure a smooth transition as their contract comes to an end. They will continue to run the out-of-hours service until a date is agreed for CHUHSE to take over.
CHUHSE aims to work positively over the four years with other healthcare providers across City & Hackney to ensure that patients get a joined-up service and avoid any fragmentation. They are also open to public suggestions about how they can contribute to patient care.
Visit CHUHSE here.