PATIENT SAFETY: South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust has served notice on its current out of hours medical contract with Gloucestershire CCG because it can no longer “offer a safe and effective service” for patients, HSJ has learned.

An email sent to staff on Tuesday confirmed the trust had decided to withdraw from the contract, blaming a lack of resources as a result of “contractual constraints” and pressure on the service caused by NHS 111, emergency demand and community services.



The trust will focus on delivering 999 services

The email, sent by Julie French, a non-clinical operational manager at the trust, said: “After reviewing the specification of the service and contractual obligations [the trust] does not believe it can continue to offer a safe and effective service for our patients. The trust are also concerned about the increasing pressures from other services which impact on the out of hours service such as 111, emergency departments and community services, and believes that it is not fair for us to continue working within a service which is unable to meet its contractual objectives for patient care.

“Within the current contractual constraints, the trust does not have the resources to improve the service to a level that is satisfactory for the trust, patients or commissioners and has therefore taken the decision to give notice on the out of hours contract.”

HSJ understands the trust will continue to run the Gloucestershire out of hours service for the next 12 months.

Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group’s lead for the out of hours contract, Jeremy Welch, said: “The CCG can confirm that we have received notice from South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust of their intention to terminate the contract for the provision of the Gloucestershire out of hours medical service.

“We recognise the challenges the trust has faced in consistently meeting performance standards and we acknowledge their wish to focus their efforts on the provision of 999 emergency care services in Gloucestershire.”

Dr Welch said the CCG would start a procurement process to find a new provider soon.

He added: “Although this change was not anticipated, it does offer us an opportunity to consider what is needed from the service alongside our work on reviewing the urgent care system. We want truly joined up urgent and emergency care services for the people of Gloucestershire.”