• NHSE unveils pilot sites that will work out how to deliver new community access standards

Seven pilot sites have been selected to develop NHS England’s new community care targets.

From April, NHS and local government teams in the seven sites — one in each NHS region — will begin developing services based around community response teams, to deliver to the new access standards.

A two-hour target will require health systems to deliver community health crisis services to older patients and those with complex health needs within two hours of referral. A separate two-day target requires health systems to deliver reablement care to patients in need within two days of referral.

This is a key component of the long-term plan and the new NHS community services strategy, Ageing Well. The new pilot sites “will be the first to deliver the new standards for care”, enabling NHSE to standardise the measurement and delivery of urgent community services across the country.

The sites will include “partnerships of providers of community health services, NHS commissioners, councils and adult social care teams, and 111 and ambulance services,” the NHS said in a statement.

The seven sites are:

  • Warrington Together (the Cheshire and Merseyside sustainability and transformation partnership);
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership;
  • Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland;
  • Cornwall;
  • Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire;
  • South East London; and
  • Norfolk and Waveney.

They will receive £14m of funding. NHSE’s ambition is for “at least three of the teams to be fully up and running by next winter”. More areas will be added to the scheme from 2021, with additional funding, and all of England will be covered by April 2023.

Different parts of the country provide urgent community care services but nowhere delivers them within the two-hour/two-day target year-round, according to the NHSE statement.

Draft contracts for community health providers and primary care networks both include the provision of urgent community response services to patients in care homes inside the two-hour target, and reablement within the two-day target.

Community service providers were to deliver the care while PCNs would identify eligible patients. However, it is unclear how PCNs will be integrated into these urgent response teams after the draft network contract was rejected by GPs. The British Medical Association is currently negotiating the terms of the contract with NHSE.