An NHS contract for community services was signed on Friday (13 July).
Community health services are currently provided by Suffolk Community Healthcare (SCH), part of NHS Suffolk, and are expected to formally transfer to Serco by the autumn. Between now and that time the process for transferring staff and services will take place.
The change is in line with the national Transforming Community Services guidance from the Department of Health which stipulates that all primary care trusts, like NHS Suffolk, will no longer directly provide community services and will instead commission (buy) these services.
Serco will work with SCH staff to further develop the current range of adult community services, specialist children’s services and community hospitals across Suffolk as well as improve access to services and address the rural needs of the county’s 600,000 patients. Serco will deliver services in partnership with South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT) and Community Dental Services (CDS), an employee owned social enterprise which provides similar services in Bedfordshire.
Julian Herbert, NHS Suffolk’s acting chief executive said: “The contract signing marks a major milestone in the journey towards finding a new provider for community health services in the county. Serco has been carefully selected and we believe they will provide improved care for patients and new opportunities for staff.
“Importantly, the care that patients receive will still be NHS care and community health services will still be part of the NHS.”
Paul Forden, managing director, acute care for Serco said: “We are delighted to have been given this opportunity to deliver NHS community health services and invest in improving the care for people in Suffolk.
“It paves the way for an exciting new delivery model which will place the patient at the heart of the service while empowering clinicians to spend more time caring. By working closely with partners from across the NHS, voluntary and private sector, we believe we can deliver a truly exemplary service which will bring real benefits to the county’s 600,000 patients.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with colleagues from NHS Suffolk, Suffolk Community Healthcare, SEPT and CDS over the coming months to ensure that both staff and services are transferred smoothly.
“We are already working in partnership with the NHS and the independent sector to deliver a broad range of healthcare services where high standards of patient care and clinical effectiveness are essential.
“We have a substantial presence across East Anglia, with over 1,000 of our people providing a range of local services to the NHS and other national and local government organisations, including the hospitals in Norwich and Braintree and the Anglia Support Partnership”.
Dr Patrick Geoghegan OBE, chief executive of South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT), said: “I welcome the signing of the contract and this landmark partnership between SEPT, Serco, NHS Suffolk, CDS and Suffolk Community Healthcare. SEPT will be working closely with staff, partners and local stakeholders over the coming months to prepare for the formal transfer of staff and services. This will ensure that local services remain local and it’s ‘business as usual’ for staff and their patients with the same services being provided from the same place, by the same healthcare professionals.”
Serco is committed to working in partnership with health and social care organisations across the world. Working in partnership with Mid Essex NHS Trust, for example, Serco is driving initiatives to minimise waiting times for patient referrals and maximise health outcomes at Braintree Community Hospital. Elsewhere Serco has played a central role in developing an innovative partnership, GSTS Pathology, the joint venture with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Kings’ College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to provide pathology services. Serco also provides facilities management and support services for five hospitals treating acutely ill patients and three Community Hospitals and is one of the UK’s largest providers of healthcare services to people in a custodial setting. Presently Serco is mobilising a 783 bed hospital in Perth Western Australia to deliver an enhanced patient experience and improved levels of productivity. Serco is also a leading provider of occupational health services, supporting the health and wellbeing of over 450,000 employees in the UK.
In the area of children’s services, Serco has worked in partnership with Primary Care Trusts and other healthcare organisations to establish 3,500 children’s centres across the UK.
Serco has also been chosen as the strategic partner to operate the Anglia Support Partnership (ASP) which provides shared services to the NHS and other public sector groups across the UK