Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the GP led organisation responsible for the planning and funding of Somerset’s health services, has reached a key stage in the procurement of the county’s Primary Care Out-of-Hours Service and the NHS 111 health helpline.
Somerset’s Primary Care Out-of-Hours Service, more commonly known as the Out-of-Hours GP Service, provides care to patients who become ill overnight or at weekends.
The NHS 111 service is a 24 hour telephone helpline for the public to call for health advice or options for treatment. People are advised to call 111 if they become ill after their GP surgery has closed and need urgent medical advice or support.
In 2012/13 an in-depth review was carried out of the out-of-hours GP service which involved key stakeholders and members of the public. The review culminated in a service specification for an out-of-hours service that will meet both current and future needs of the local population in Somerset.
In the summer of 2013 NHS Direct announced it was withdrawing from the provision of the NHS 111 services in Somerset and nine other areas of England as it was financially unstable. This meant that Somerset CCG needed to find another substantive provider of the service.
Both the NHS 111 service and the Somerset GP Out-of-Hours service are currently being provided by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT). Somerset CCG would like to acknowledge that they were very grateful when SWASFT stepped in to deliver NHS 111 following the withdrawal from the contract by NHS Direct.
Earlier this year, Somerset CCG carried out two separate procurement processes. Twenty two organisations expressed an interest in providing one or both of the services i.e. NHS 111 and the out-of-hours GP service.
After a thorough procurement process Somerset CCG has appointed Northern Doctors Urgent Care as the preferred provider of both services within Somerset. Northern Doctors Urgent Care are a social enterprise, not-for-profit organisation led by GPs currently delivering urgent care services in Staffordshire, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle and more locally in Bath and North East Somerset.
As the ‘preferred provider’Northern Doctors Urgent Care will now work with Somerset CCG to finalise the detail of the service specifications before contracts are awarded.
The announcement of a ‘preferred provider’ does not become binding until the contracts have been formally awarded in early 2015. The successful provider will then be responsible for delivering the services from July 2015.
Until that date Somerset CCG retains the right to re-engage with any other organisation that previously submitted bids to provide the services and who met the required evaluation standards.
Note for Editors
NHS 111 is the 24 hour telephone helpline established in early 2013 to help the public when they require urgent health advice or are unsure where to go for treatment.
The service also helps people if they become ill after their GP surgery has closed and need urgent medical advice or support. The 111 number is free to call from a mobile or landline phone.
The Somerset Primary Care Out-of-Hours Service delivers overnight and weekend medical advice and support to the residents of Somerset.
The current provider of both the 111 and Somerset Primary Care Out-of-Hours Service is the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT).
Further information about Northern Doctors Urgent Care can be found at: