NHS unveils £15m urgent care deal for patients in region

Doctors’ leaders today unveil details of a £15 million deal to run urgent care and out-of-hours GP services for tens of thousands of people in the region.

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Not-for-profit social enterprise Northern Doctors Urgent Care Ltd has been awarded the contract to run urgent care centres in the A&E unit at Scarborough Hospital, and at Malton Hospital. It will also run out-of-hours GP care for around 120,000 people in the area.

The new service beginning in April will assess, diagnose and treat all patients with urgent care needs. It will include access to diagnostics, including X-rays, and also expert advice from A&E staff and other services such as mental health. The GP out-of-hours service will be part of the overall service, with home visiting provided if necessary.

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The services have been previously delivered under three separate deals by two private firms and York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

GP Peter Billingsley, who is leading the project for Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group, said the deal would bring “huge benefits” for patients in the area, ensuring people access the right service first time.

“I firmly believe that the best urgent care services are co-located with A&E and minor injury units,” he said. “Having good access to the new service was a key issue raised by local residents who felt it was essential for the two centres to have good public transport links and ample parking provision.

“Free parking is already in place at Malton Hospital and we have proposed free parking places at Scarborough Hospital for urgent care users. Although located outside the town centre, the Scarborough urgent care centre is within a reasonable distance for the majority of people who live in the town centre to travel to.”

John Harrison, chief executive of Northern Doctors Urgent Care, which is among potential operators of new out-of-hours and hospital services in Whitby under a separate deal, said: “This is a positive step in the journey towards integrating urgent care services in the area.

“Our experience of working across the UK delivering similar services, while taking a highly collaborative approach to working with other healthcare providers locally, will help us to ensure the delivery of a high quality service for residents and visitors.”

Two public meetings about the service will be held in January.

Meanwhile a survey today of 1,000 GPs finds less than half feel out-of-hours services in their area have enough resources to provide high-quality care.

It comes as a report finds “considerable disruption” over the last decade, including successive NHS reforms and GP contract changes, has marginalised services and led to weak integration.

The report, by Prof David Colin-Thome, former primary care czar at the Department of Health, and funded by private provider Care UK, said GPs have been discouraged from working out of hours, fuelling a “chronic shortage” of doctors to staff the service.

He said: “As the NHS strives to make a seven-day week a reality, there remains a lag in how it provides round-the-clock care in the community. Out of hours services have too often been treated as an ‘add-on’. If they are better integrated with hospitals and emergency services, then a lot of people who currently spend hours sitting in A&E could be treated at home or get much quicker access to specialist care.”