TCN loses Suffolk out-of-hours contract

THE company which provides out-of-hours GP care in Suffolk has this afternoon lost the contract to run services from next year.

THE company which provides out-of-hours GP care in Suffolk has this afternoon lost the contract to run services from next year.

Take Care Now (TCN), based in Ipswich, had come under fire after a series of concerns about the quality of service it was providing.

However, NHS Suffolk announced today that, from April next year, TCN will be replaced with a new firm - Harmoni HS Ltd.

TCN had recently come under intense criticism following a report by The Care Quality Commission, which accused it of failing to fill doctors' shifts and its policies for dispensing medicine.

The CQC launched a probe into the company after German doctor, Dr Daniel Ubani, who was working his first out-of-hours shift in Britain for NHS Cambridgeshire last year, gave an accidental overdose to 70-year-old David Gray, which led to his death.

Harmoni HS Ltd is a large independent sector organisation that currently holds six NHS out-of-hours contracts nationally. These include the out-of-hours service for NHS North East Essex. Harmoni also runs the urgent access centre in Colchester.

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Dr Andrew Hassan, medical director at NHS Suffolk said: “The panel felt the arrangements of this provider for clinical governance were robust and safe, its quality of care arrangements strong, and ideas for improvement and development of a quality service innovative.

“Harmoni has clearly demonstrated it has done significant work to engage local health providers and it was also clear from the bid that Harmoni had invested time to understand the particular health needs of the population of Suffolk.

“We would like to reassure people across Suffolk that during the transition period between service providers, we will make sure that the safety of patients using the service, and their clinical care, remains our top priority.”

TCN issued the following statement today: “Take Care Now has expressed disappointment at not having been re-awarded the contract to run the out-of-hours service for NHS Suffolk but has committed to continuing to deliver innovative and patient-centred care in other areas for NHS Suffolk. TCN will remain focused on the delivery of out-of-hours services until March 31, 2010, when the contract ends and will work to ensure seamless a transfer to the new provider.

“In addition to its out-of-hours contracts, TCN runs the Minor Injuries Unit in Ipswich, which has played a significant role in reducing A&E demand. TCN is also responsible for delivering sexual health services in Suffolk and supports Suffolk County Council in the delivery of its emergency social care.”