Serco, a leading provider of healthcare services in the UK, has signed a contract to provide community health services for NHS Suffolk. Serco was selected as preferred bidder in March and the contract is due to start in October 2012, and has a total estimated value of £140m over three years.
Under the contract, Serco and its partners will provide a wide range of community health services that are currently provided by Suffolk Community Healthcare (SCH) and work to improve access to services to the county's 600,000 patients. These services include community nursing, specialist nursing, community hospitals, speech and language therapy, specialist children's services and community equipment services.
Around 1,000 staff are expected to transfer to the new service by the autumn with their terms and conditions protected under TUPE regulations.
To deliver the services Serco will work with a range of NHS and third sector partners, including South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT), a leading provider of community and mental health services, and Community Dental Services (CDS), a staff-owned social enterprise specialising in the provision of dental services to vulnerable groups.Read more
The partnership approach developed by Serco will create a unique model of integrated service delivery for Suffolk. This will address local health and geographical needs by simplifying services and processes, empowering front line healthcare professionals to work in different ways, and utilising new technologies to improve access to healthcare and address the rural needs of Suffolk patients. The model focuses resources to the frontline, increasing the time healthcare professionals spend with patients and improving the overall patient experience. The approach builds on Serco's experience of working in partnership with the NHS and third sector providers, including its management of Braintree Community Hospital and the pathology joint venture with two NHS Foundations Trusts in London.
Julian Herbert, NHS Suffolk's interim chief executive said: "The contract signing marks a major milestone in the journey towards finding a new provider for community health services in the county. Serco has been carefully selected and we believe they will provide improved care for patients and new opportunities for staff.
"Importantly, the care that patients receive will still be NHS care and community health services will still be part of the NHS."
Valerie Michie, Managing Director of Serco's Health business, said: "We are delighted to have been given this opportunity to deliver NHS community health services and invest in improving the care for people in Suffolk.
"It paves the way for an exciting new delivery model which will place the patient at the heart of the service while empowering healthcare professionals to spend more time delivering a range of healthcare services to their patients. By working closely with partners from across the NHS, voluntary and private sector, we believe we can deliver a truly exemplary service which will bring real benefits to the county's 600,000 patients.
"We look forward to continuing to work closely with colleagues from NHS Suffolk, Suffolk Community Healthcare, SEPT and CDS over the coming months to ensure that both staff and services are transferred smoothly.
"We are already working in partnership with the NHS and the independent sector to deliver a broad range of healthcare services where high standards of patient care and clinical effectiveness are essential. "We have a substantial presence across East Anglia, with over 1,000 of our people providing a range of local services to the NHS and other national and local government organisations, including the hospitals in Norwich and Braintree and the Anglia Support Partnership".
Dr Patrick Geoghegan, chief executive of SEPT, said: "I welcome the signing of the contract and this landmark partnership between SEPT, Serco, NHS Suffolk, CDS and Suffolk Community Healthcare. "SEPT will be working closely with staff, partners and local stakeholders over the coming months to prepare for the formal transfer of staff and services. This will ensure that local services remain local and it's 'business as usual' for staff and their patients with the same services being provided from the same place, by the same healthcare professionals."