COMMERCIAL: Heart of England Foundation Trust is partnering with a local commissioner to find a new provider to run the front door of one of its hospitals.

The trust is working with Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group to bring in an outside organisation to run a new urgent care centre at Solihull Hospital.

The CCG expects to go to open procurement in November, with a view to putting the new service in place during 2016.

Solihull CCG chief officer Patrick Brooke told HSJ he expected to receive bids from large national private providers, alongside offers from NHS trusts and primary care providers.

The centre will replace three facilities currently run on the site by separate providers: a walk-in centre, a GP out of hours service, and a department previously badged as an accident and emergency unit.

The latter service does not in fact offer a full range of emergency services, and has not done so for many years. The Care Quality Commission earlier this year urged the trust to change its signage to avoid confusion. The trust told HSJ they would rebadge the centre as a minor injuries unit “this autumn”.

Dr Brooke said the site would not lose any existing services, but would gain a consistent 24 hour, seven day service.

The new urgent care centre will be led by primary care and will be focused on helping an ageing local population stay out of hospital. Dr Brooke said he hoped to develop the Solihull site as a “super community hospital” rather than a “watered down district general hospital”.

He added that there were potential savings to be made by moving from a payment system based on the acute tariff to one designed for a GP led service.