COMMERCIAL: Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group has invited organisations to tender for a £66.8m urgent care services contract, which includes out of hours GP services in the county.

The procurement for a five year community based urgent care services contract also includes a request to for bidders to provide minor injury services, a multidisciplinary home visiting service and a GP telephone triage service.

The CCG is encouraging groups of potential providers to bid together, as part of efforts to create more integrated urgent care provision throughout the region under the management of a “lead accountable provider”.

A separate contract for emergency dental services, commissioned by NHS England, will also form part of the procurement, according to the tender documents.

The tender advertisement published in the Official Journal of the European Union in March said: “Working with providers, commissioners expect to create the conditions to develop a more integrated approach to urgent care which increases patient satisfaction and safety and delivers a cost effective model of provision.

“The commissioners are keen to develop a lead accountable provider model for urgent care. We acknowledge there may be many options for the future model and partnerships, including single lead accountable providers, alliances, consortiums, single provider, etc”.

A document published last month by the South West Commissioning Support Unit on behalf of the CCG added:  “Our expectation… is the opportunity to transform care and ensure integration between the various components of urgent community based care and their connection with other urgent care providers, especially [NHS 111], 999 and emergency departments and also their connection with other specialist services, eg: mental health.”

NEW Devon, the biggest CCG in the country, with an annual income of over £1bn, has faced severe financial challenges, partly as a consequence of the aging and dispersed patient population.

The urgent care tender forms part of a major shake-up of community services across its patch.

The successful bidder or group of bidders are expected to be notified of the contract award in August, with contract terms due to be finalised at the start of September.