GP practices take on community health services in £185m deal

GP practices in east London have taken on responsibility for some community health services under a £185m contract alongside local hospital and community trusts.

The new partnership aims to bring more joined-up community services, with GPs working more closely with secondary care colleagues.

The GP Care Group practice federation in Tower Hamlets and the East London NHS Foundation Trust had 350 staff transferred to them from Barts Hospital Trust on 1 April.

The three providers have signed an over-arching alliance contract with the CCG to ensure services are joined up, while each provider is individually contracted to provide specific services. The GP federation is responsible for co-ordination functions, including out-of-hours, the single point of access service, advocacy and interpreting and the patient experience team.

GP innovation

GP Care Group chair Dr Phillip Bennett-Richards said: ‘We are delighted to be able to use our local knowledge and understanding to develop partnerships that support local patients.

‘We are proud to lead Tower Hamlets Together, a national multispeciality community provider vanguard site that has helped shape and deliver our innovative approach.

‘Collaborative working is extremely important to enable the sustainability of general practice to continue to deliver the highest possible level of patient care in these challenging times.’

Together, the partnership will provide services including district nurses, speech and language therapists, a stroke rehabilitation team and diabetes nurses.

The new provider alliance will introduce a single, 24/7 point of access for patients, better integration of adult and children's’ services and a single patient record.

GP practice team

Tower Hamlets CCG, which commissioned the service, aims to build on the provider collaboration developed through the Tower Hamlets Together MCP vanguard scheme. The CCG said the new arrangements would support early discharge from hospital and ‘truly multi-skilled’ teams.

Arrangement for patients will be unchanged with services provided from the same facilities.

The contract is for five years with an option to extend to seven. Providers are paid to deliver specific outcomes, with the proportion of the contract based on outcomes increasing over time.

Tower Hamlets CCG acting chief officer Simon Hall said the deal would support partnership and integration. ‘The new model has been designed to meet the needs of individual patients and benefit the wellbeing of the Tower Hamlets population and the local health system,’ he said. 

‘As local GP practices will be working in close partnership with providers, we will also be able to reduce duplication and deliver effective services that will really make a difference for our patients.’

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