COMMERCIAL: NHS Norfolk has announced it will put its out of hours GP service out to tender later this year.

The service is currently provided by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, which mainly employs local doctors to deliver out of hours care.

The ambulance trust has run the service since 2007.

NHS Norfolk’s director of primary care Nikki Cocks said the tendering process was “an opportunity to test the market and invite innovative ideas from suitably-qualified organisations who may wish to bid to develop the service in the future”.

She said the trust had worked “very closely” with new GP-led commissioning groups in the county to draw up specifications.

The PCT said it expected to award a new three-year contract scheduled to start in August next year.

The trust said bidders could look at new ways of delivering out of hours care but must meet targets for the time taken to speak to and treat each patient.

New services must also meet the needs of the most vulnerable patients and those with special needs including those whose first language is not English and patients with hearing problems.