Troubled ambulance service to take over out-of-hours care in City and Hackney
Troubled London Ambulance Service (LAS) is to take over out-of-hours urgent care in Hackney this summer as part of a new ‘integrated’ NHS 111 service covering north east London.
From August, all urgent care calls made outside normal working hours, between 6.30pm to 8am on weekday nights, at weekends and on bank holidays, will go through the new clinical assessment service.
The takeover will mark an end to GP-led out-of-hours services in Hackney as well as the first significant shift away from locally commissioned services.
LAS, rated as ‘requiring improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission, already runs an NHS 111 service in south east London.
An alliance of seven north east London clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), including City and Hackney CCG, awarded the contract to LAS following a joint procurement process.
Hackney Council has criticised plans to merge out-of-hours services with the NHS 111 service. Last year it urged the CCG to protect the local GP-led out-of-hours system and the right of Hackney patients to speak directly to a GP.
City and Hackney CCG said face-to-face appointments would be arranged ‘where needed’ during the out-of-hours period.
Under the new system, when patients call out of hours they will be screened by a call handler who will use an NHS 111 clinical assessment system to decide if they need speak to a clinician.
The NHS 111 ‘clinical team’ will include GPs, nurses, paramedics and pharmacists who can give urgent expert advice.
Calls involving patients aged over 75 and infants under a year old will automatically be put through to a clinician.
City and Hackney CCG has yet to say how many GPs will be available on each NHS 111 out-of-hours shift covering the 1.9m people in north east London.
Dr Anwar Khan, lead chair for North East London Commissioning Alliance, said the new arrangements were ‘the way of the future’.
Dr Kate Adams, clinical lead for integrated urgent care for the alliance, said: ‘This means no more sitting around waiting for hours in A&E. If you’re ill and not sure what to do, call 111.’
CHUHSE, Hackney's GP-led out-of-hours service, will continue for patients in City and Hackney until the new system is established. If you urgently need to speak to a GP when your surgery is closed please call 0208 185 0545.