1 July 2016
Devon Doctors will provide the county’s new integrated urgent care service, which will include the NHS 111 and out of hours GP service from 1 October 2016.
Devon Doctors has delivered urgent out-of-hours medical care across the county since 1996 and put in a bid to run the new service which, in line with a new national model, would see out-of-hours care and the free-to-call single non-emergency medical helpline NHS 111 much more closely aligned.
The proposed change of provider for the NHS 111 element of the service comes after a change to NHS England guidance last year, which recommended integrated urgent care services and increased clinical involvement, at a time when South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust gave notice on its current contract to run the service for Devon.
Devon Doctors Ltd., an Exeter-based organisation, will be responsible for both elements of the new integrated urgent care service, though it will work with Vocare, which has a wealth of experience in providing urgent care services across the UK, to ensure callers to NHS 111 receive the best possible care.
Devon Doctors will deliver a new unified urgent care service that is well equipped to meet the challenges faced by NHS 111 services and better meet patients’ expectations. They proposals will also make more efficient use of GP time, creating quicker contact between the public and the out-of-hours service, while clinicians working in the out-of-hours period would benefit from greater opportunities to discuss cases with colleagues.
Under the new arrangements, the people of Devon will benefit from a number of service innovations when the new service launches. For instance, interactive voice response technology will help callers to NHS 111 to obtain the answers they are seeking more quickly, while there will also be scope to offer them a directly bookable appointment with the out-of-hours service.
The new arrangements will also see a greater proportion of callers who will be put through to speak to a clinician and greater support for groups of patients who are not served well by telephony i.e. under ones and over 85 year olds, for example.
The governing bodies of both NHS NEW Devon CCG and South Devon and Torbay CCG gave approval to proceed with contract negotiation.
Dr Stephen Thake, NHS 111 clinical lead for both CCGs said:
“We are pleased to be able to move forward with a new model for urgent care services in Devon. Combining the NHS 111 telephone number with the out of hours GP service will mean more access to clinical care locally, provided by local GPs.
“Devon Doctors has a long history of providing excellent care in the county and we look forward to working with them on this new, integrated model of care.”
Dr Mike Haugh, NHS 111 clinical lead for South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“By combining out-of-hours, 111 telephony and a clinical assessment service, this is a really positive partnership, bringing innovation and learning to create an improved service for the people of Devon.
“It will offer a service that checks people’s symptoms and then directs them to the most suitable urgent care service that meets their needs.
“Combining the out-of-hours service means that there will be even quicker access to a wider range of healthcare professionals than we have at present.
“We hope to see GPs, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, mental health specialists all working together to provide a comprehensive service to the people of Devon.”
The chair of Devon Doctors’ board, North Devon GP Dr Bruce Hughes, said: “Devon Doctors is delighted to have been chosen to provide this new, integrated urgent care service.
“We have a long track record of providing excellent care across the county and believe this new model, which will see out-of-hours care and NHS 111 much more closely aligned, presents us with an excellent opportunity to build on what we have achieved over the past 20 years.
“Devon Doctors looks forward to working with the commissioners to ensure this new service meets patients’ expectations while delivering the high standards of care which have become our trademark.”