Health firm assesses lost NHS contract

An out-of-hours health care provider is today waiting to see how its business will be affected by the loss of the NHS Suffolk contract.

SUFFOLK: An out-of-hours health care provider is today waiting to see how its business will be affected by the loss of the NHS Suffolk contract.

It was announced on Wednesday that Take Care Now (TCN) would not be re-awarded the contract to run the service. It has instead been given to the independent firm, Harmoni HS Ltd, which is due to take over from April next year.

Under the NHS Suffolk contract, Ipswich-based independent firm TCN was responsible for the out-of-hours care of more than 600,000 people in the county. With the loss of this contract, together with the fact that NHS Cambridgeshire terminated its contract with TCN nine weeks early due to concerns, questions have been raised about its future.

TCN still has a contract to run the same service with the primary care trust in Worcestershire, parts of Essex and the Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT, and also runs the sexual health services in Suffolk and the Riverside minor injuries clinic in Ipswich.

Dr Graeme Kelvin, chairman of TCN board, said: “Contracts for sexual health services and the minor injuries unit are managed separately from the GP out-of-hours contract.

“We are committed to these existing contracts and delivering high quality, safe, patient-focused care. The GP out-of-hours contract runs until March 31, 2010 and we are evaluating the impact of NHS Suffolk's decision as part of our business planning process.”

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Staff currently working for TCN, who are eligible for transfer to a new provider, will be supported under Transfer of Undertakings for the Protection of Employment law.

During the changeover period, which will run from January to March, NHS Suffolk will be meeting Harmoni to finalise the details and devise a transition plan.

According to NHS Suffolk, Harmoni provided “strong evidence of quality governance arrangements”, had a “good understanding of patients' needs, even breaking down to individual wards in Suffolk” and had a good coverage of bases across Suffolk.

What is your view on the change in providers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk