Instead of going with traditional healthcare contractors, the Tower Hamlets clinical commissioning group for two NHS trusts in London has awarded its primary community services contract to a company owned by local GPs.
Tower Hamlets GP Care Group Community Interest Company is owned by 37 practices in the London borough, and with the contract, it has become the main contractor for community health services.
The good news for NHS contractors is that this company will subcontract a majority of the health services, and the contractors will be held accountable for improving them. While most community health services will be contracted to and provided by two local NHS trusts, there will still be services that other NHS contractors can look forward to providing.
The GP-owned contractor has been awarded the contract two years after the consultation first started. The contract is worth £33 million a year and will be valid for five years. There is an option to extend the contract for another two years, and a break clause after two years.
Barts Health NHS Trust is the current provider of community health services. The trust will continue to hold on to 50 to 60 per cent of the services as a subcontractor, in particular paediatrics-related services as it is a specialist provider in this field. Barts Health has been providing community health services for Tower Hamlets from 2011 as part of the changing community services programme. Adult community services will be subcontracted to East London NHS Foundation Trust.
The GP-owned company will provide a “single point of access” for services sought outside the hospital, out-of-hours primary care, and advocacy and interpretation services. The Tower Hamlets clinical commissioning group and the GP company will sign the contract in July 2016, and the service is expected to go live in October 2016.