NHS chiefs in region launch £285m tender for community care contract for 400,000

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NHS CHIEFS have launched one of the biggest-ever tenders for health services in Yorkshire in a deal worth £285m.

The contract for community services for about 400,000 people in Kirklees is currently provided by community interest company, Locala. The expanded flagship deal includes community beds, specialist community nursing, community occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy, podiatry and work to deliver early discharge from hospital.

Better out-of-hospital care is a key part of work to improve NHS services nationally to deal with the ageing population and growing numbers of patients with increasingly complex illnesses.

Greater Huddersfield CCG’s chief officer, Carol McKenna, said: “Our ambition over time is for primary, community and social care services to be increasingly brought together in a more integrated manner. Seamless, co-ordinated care provided as one coherent package is what patients and healthcare commissioners want to achieve across Kirklees.”

The plans by GP leaders at North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group, where the value of the contract is put at £92.4m, are critical to moves to downgrade emergency care at Dewsbury and District Hospital in a major reconfiguration of services, with more patients expected to be treated at Wakefield and neighbouring hospitals and at home.

Controversial plans to revamp hospital care in Huddersfield and Halifax were put on hold in the summer until improved community services are in place. The value for the contract in the Huddersfield area is put at £192.5m.

Health chiefs say the Care Closer to Home vision for integrated community health services will benefit patients from children to the frail elderly. Voluntary, charity and GP groups could be among those bidding for the seven-year contracts, but private firms are also likely to draw up bids. Locala has already confirmed it will bid. The existing contract is due to expire next September.