The new Thames Valley urgent care 111 telephone service has now been launched providing people an improved access to a wider range of clinical care through a single call, including dental, pharmacy and mental health services, ensuring patients get the right care, first time.
This new service is provided by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) in collaboration with Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.
The contract was awarded by the 10 Clinical Commissioning Groups across the Thames Valley in July 2017 after a thorough and rigorous procurement process involving clinicians, specialists and NHS managers in the decision-making.
Philip Astle, chief operating officer at SCAS, said: “From today, patients will continue to call the 111 number and the trained call handler will assess the person’s needs. They will be able to arrange for the patient to see or speak to a clinically trained healthcare professional, including GPs where this is clinically appropriate.
“It is expected that approximately 30 per cent of calls will be handled by a clinically trained healthcare professional from day one of the new service.
“For the launch, clinicians will be based at SCAS Headquarters in Bicester and at the Berkshire Healthcare Hub in Wokingham, linked via a telephone network to allow seamless management of patients.”
Sam Burrows, the senior responsible officer for the procurement process, said: “In 2015, NHS England announced that NHS 111 would integrate with out-of-hours providers to form an integrated urgent care model with the intention of delivering a more streamlined service, increasing the chance of getting the patient to the right place, first time.
“To bring about the Thames Valley Integrated Urgent Care (TVIUC) service, a new specification was developed, with an enhanced form of triage, a new workforce, new commissioning standards and quality measures. Clinical governance of this new model will be a joint process with regional leadership and central oversight.”
From day one, the service will draw on the best practice of the organisations within the alliance to support patient care across the region via the clinical hub, offering enhancements over the current 111 service including:
• GP clinical leadership and triage within the service
• dental nurse assessment
• community psychiatric nursing and improved access to mental health crisis teams across the week
• paediatric specialists
• prescribing pharmacist
• tailored support to care and nursing homes
• early intervention for under-fives, over 85s and end of life patients
• direct booking of appointments in out of hours across Thames Valley
• enhanced assessment of cases recommended to attend Emergency Departments or receive a Green ambulance (60 minute) response by a clinician
• improved support for self-care where clinically appropriate
• Improved transfer of patient information and access to care records.
Patients will be confident that, with one call to 111, the care they are directed to will meet their physical, mental and social care needs in a timely and clinically safe manner.
Health and social care professionals will be confident that the 111 integrated urgent care service has assessed and managed patients appropriately, placing them with the service which can most effectively meet their needs.
Where integrated urgent care services have been launched elsewhere in the UK they have demonstrated that an enhanced review can downgrade A&E and green ambulance calls (60 minute response time).