Wiltshire gets a new provider for its adult health services in the community
A newly formed organisation bringing together the three major hospitals that serve Wiltshire will provide the county's community health services for adults from July 2016. They will take over from Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GWH), which has held the contract since 2010.
The process to choose the new has been run by Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which funds the contract with input from Wiltshire Council. At an earlier stage in this procurement four organisations were selected to bid for the contract.
Wiltshire Health and Care has been formed by GWH, the Royal United Hospital Bath and Salisbury Hospital. However staff currently working for the community services will continue to be employed by GWH with no change to their pensions or their NHS service conditions.
Community health services are central to the CCG's Five Year Plan to move more health care closer to people's homes. And they are also central to plans for the Better Care Fund which brings the Council and CCG together in the care of the frail and elderly and also aims to treat as many patients as possible without their needing to be admitted to hospital.
The CCG's Accountable Officer, Deborah Fielding, comments: "Delivered through integrated community teams across the county, Wiltshire Health and Care will support Wiltshire CCG to meet the challenges of an aging population and to enhance partner working across the health economy to provide a health service fit for tomorrow."
Wiltshire Health and Care's Managing Director will be Douglas Blair who has been running the GWH's current contract: "This will mark the start of an exciting period of change, delivering more care closer to local communities, supporting people to maintain independence, reducing reliance on hospital services and removing barriers between different organisations."
Community health services were run by the Primary Care Trust until the Labour government decided PCTs could not be both providers and commissioners of health services. In 2010 GWH won the contract following a competitive tender process.
The services are based around the community teams and their care co-ordinators, but include a large number of other services from hearing therapies to podiatry and minor injury units.
The award of this contract will bring stability to the county's NHS services - both from the point of view of staffing and the development and extension of the services that has already taken place under the CCG.
Marlborough News Online has been told that the new organisation faces two main problems that are lurking over the horizon.
One is working efficiently in conjunction with some of the programmes setup under the Better Care Fund - there is a 'pretty complex jig-saw' of new teams at work. The second is one that afflicts the whole of NHS: the difficulty in recruiting appropriately experienced staff who can work 'away from base'.
It is unclear at the moment whether the new organisation will retain ownership of the community hospitals and other buildings - and that includes Savernake Hospital, which is now owned by GWH and part of which is used by the community services.