Suffolk commissioners plan to create a single “care co-ordination centre” as part of a contract bundling proposal which could make outsourcing giant Serco well positioned for the role.
Proposals for the single call centre were unveiled in Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group board papers.
These reveal that the board discussed a paper outlining exploratory plans for a “health and social care coordination centre” last month.
Under the proposals, the call centre would field its NHS 111, out-of-hours and community services contracts, all of which are up for renewal.
The centre would direct patients to new “urgent care hubs”, potentially based at one or both local acute providers, and community-based “spokes” which would also deal with urgent care matters.
The CCG stressed the plans were only formative and that it had not yet decided what kind of contracting model to use or how many providers it would want to provide the services.
Bundling together NHS 111 and OOH services is an idea being looked at by commissioners across England but drawing in community care, mental health and social care services is less common.
Serco, which already provides all the CCG’s community services including the care-coordination function, has already built in the area what it calls a “care co-ordination centre”.
The firm has described the centre as a “platform” to win more NHS contracts.
The company’s director of community services Sharon Colclough told HSJ last May: “Our care co-ordination centre gives us the platform to do admin across anywhere in anyway in terms of healthcare.
“We could do the administration for a whole hospital or for a whole system.”
The company told HSJ this week it “supported this type of integration” and that it was looking at the CCG’s plans “with interest”.
The NHS 111 and OOH contracts, worth a combined value of around £7m, are both currenlty held by Harmoni, owned by Care UK.
The CCG’s plans are being developed as part of a five-year strategic plan for Suffolk.
This process is being led by the county’s health and wellbeing board with support from Ipswich and East Suffolk, West Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCGs; Suffolk County Council and Healthwatch Suffolk.
HSJ contacted Care UK but the company declined an invitation to comment.