Integrated Care 24 (IC24) has been appointed to run the NHS 111 and GP-led out of hours services in east Kent.

IC24, a local not for profit, gold-mark accredited social enterprise with extensive experience of providing out of hours GP services and NHS 111, will take over the contract from the current provider, Primecare, from 1 December 2017.

Highly trained

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. Patients who use the service will be put through to a team of highly trained advisers, supported by healthcare professionals, to have their symptoms assessed.

They will be given the healthcare advice they need or directed to the local service that can help them best. Patients who are assessed by 111 as urgently needing to see a GP when their practice is closed will be referred to the out of hours GP service.

'Completely committed'

Andrew Catto, Chief Medical Officer at IC24, said: 'We are completely committed to providing patients with a safe and efficient service when they need us, and supporting those staff from Primecare who are transferring to our organisation. We will be working closely with the CCGs and all other healthcare providers across east Kent to ensure they receive a good and safe service.'

Megan da Silva, Managing Director for Primecare, said: 'We are working with IC24 to ensure eligible staff are transferred to the new provider. We would like to thank all our staff in east Kent for their hard work over the past 14 months.'

IC24 will run the 111 service until April 2019 and the out of hours contract until December 2019.

Interim contract

The new service has been commissioned by the four east Kent clinical commissioning groups, which are: NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group. NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG is the lead for this contract.

The CCGs have awarded the interim contract to ensure continuity of the service in the short term, while also preparing to procure the substantive replacement service.

The current provider opted to exercise its right to serve an accelerated notice period of three months and this is not sufficient time to conduct a competitive procurement of a replacement service, with due regard to its complexity and safety critical aspects.