Five-year contract awarded to run Urgent Treatment Centres in Goodmayes, Barking, Romford and Harold Wood

PELC's chief executive Brian Jones. Picture: PELC

PELC's chief executive Brian Jones. Picture: PELC - Credit: Archant

Urgent treatment centres at King George Hospital, Barking Community Hospital and the Harold Wood Walk-in Centre are all set to be open by July this year, it has been revealed.

On Tuesday, January 7 it was announced that the Partnership of East London Cooperatives (Pelc) had been awarded a new contract to provide the services for four Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) - the three being opened and the one already in operation at Queen's Hospital in Romford.

UTCs are GP-led healthcare centres that exist to help treat common ailments that many people would attend A&E for that do not require immediate hospital treatment.

The use of UTCs to help ease pressure on hospital A&Es is one of the key strategies in the NHS Long Term Plan.

The services will be provided in partnership with Barking Havering and Redbridge (BHR)'s mental healthcare provider, the North East London NHS Foundation Trust (Nelft) in a true demonstration of integrated working across the boroughs.

This partnership will be known as the BHR Integrated Healthcare Alliance moving forward.

The contract is for five years, with an option to extend two further years.

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Work will now begin on converting King George Hospital's Urgent Care Centre, the Harold Wood Walk-in Centre and Barking Community Hospital into UTCs, with Pelc aiming to have all four in operation by July.

As part of the move, Pelc is also hoping to incorporate cutting-edge technology into its operations, including the roll-out of a new database system that would document waiting times clearly at each centre, allowing patients to pick a centre to go to where waiting times are shorter on any given day.

Brian Jones, Pelc chief executive, said he was "over the moon" at the news.

He added: "It's clear that one of the biggest challenges the NHS faces is a growing population.

"We want to help educate those who use health services to ensure that they're not only getting the relevant and most effective treatment, but that they also do not put unnecessary pressure on emergency departments, which are designed to deal with life-threatening situations.

"We believe we can do good by the vote of confidence the contract has given us, and more importantly, do good by the people that need our services.

"We are delighted to be in a position to provide these services in partnership with our colleagues at Nelft. Our launch will be rolled out in the coming weeks, and we will be working to ensure that our healthcare services run like clockwork."

And Oliver Shanley, interim chief executive at Nelft, added that the new partnership was "a great opportunity".

He said: "The NHS Long Term Plan clearly sets out a vision for integrated working within health systems/ localities and the contract and service provision for the Urgent Treatment Centres in Barking, Havering and Redbridge is a an excellent example of how we are starting to deliver on this vision for our local communities.

"As well as the opportunity for our nursing staff to work in a more integrated way with our primary care colleagues, there is the chance for us to support our colleagues in the acute trust to use our combined expertise to improve access and patient care."

Over the term of its contract, Pelc will be embarking on a journey to educate the public on the appropriate use of the healthcare system, as well as getting as many people, including those who are homeless, to sign up to GPs.

The hope is that this will encourage patients to book appointments at the UTCs, via NHS 111, to minimise waiting times and hopefully prevent people with minor ailments attending A&Es.

Both Pelc and Nelft will be working alongside the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust - which runs Queen's and King George Hospitals - to establish joint pathways; the London Ambulance Service to ensure the smooth running of its North East London 111 services booking into PELC's UTCs; 999 paramedic crews who, where appropriate, bring patients directly to UTCs; and BHR's Clinical Commissioning Groups regarding performance monitoring.

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