COMMERCIAL: Commissioners have awarded contracts to provide Somerset’s GP out of hours and NHS 111 services to a social enterprise.

Vocare Group, a community benefit society, will operate in the county as Somerset Doctors Urgent Care. It will provide services to a population of 540,000.

Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group awarded both contracts, which will run for five years with an option to extend for a further two.

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Vocare provides out of hours services in the Midlands and Somerset

The GP out of hours contract is valued at £27m, while the NHS 111 deal is worth £7m.

Vocare was also recently named as the interim provider of the 111 service across 16 CCG areas in the West Midlands.

It already provides 111 and out of hours services in Staffordshire and out of hours care across Bath and North East Somerset.

Somerset CCG’s GP emergency care lead, Ed Ford, said: “Our plans for emergency and out of hours medical care aim to deliver a significant improvement to services in Somerset.

“Our aim is to see more seamless care delivered to patients whether in their own home or the community, as well as fewer people feeling they need to attend accident and emergency departments when they don’t have an urgent need to be there.”

Helen Mee, regional operational manager for Somerset Doctors Urgent Care, said:  “We are delighted to be the new service provider for Somerset out of hours urgent care and NHS 111 service and we believe that we can improve access to the right service through a more integrated approach.

“We are looking forward to working closely with other local healthcare providers in the county to deliver high quality patient care.”