A new provider for community healthcare across Suffolk began its tenure on Thursday, replacing Serco, which came under fire during its three year contract.
Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group awarded the NHS contract to West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, working in partnership with Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.
Suffolk Community Healthcare will remain as it is, with existing staff remaining in place.
The year-long contract which can be extended for a further year, covers a range of adult community services, specialist children’s services and community hospitals.
Dr Simon Arthur, West Suffolk CCG governing body member and Newmarket GP, said: “People work really hard in the community to support patients, and their efforts are often unsung.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who work tirelessly to keep people living independently as long as possible.”
Professor Dr Stephen Dunn, chief executive at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust added: “We are delighted that the partnership has today started delivering community services across Suffolk and look forward to continuing to work closely together to provide the best possible care to our patients.
“During the past two weeks, I have shadowed district nurses and the specialist COPD team and seen how fantastically dedicated the staff are, and heard how much they are looking forward to working even closer together for the benefit of local patients.
“Our long term strategy is to further develop integrated, joined up services that break down the organisational barriers which can get in the way of great patient care.
“Together we will make the most of opportunities for community services, primary care, hospitals and social care to work together to reduce pressure across the system and provide the right care, in the right place at the right time.”
Serco decided not to bid again a decision that pleased Sudbury Watch member Frances Jackson.
“They didn’t have the experience. I hope all parties concerned in giving them that contract have learnt from the experience.
“I’ve heard they got better by the end but that’s not what health care is about. You need people who know what they are doing.
“They were learning on the job and that’s not acceptable I don’t think.”
Mrs Jackson said she was pleased with the new contract and hoped it would offer a “good, joined up service”.
Serco’s Abi Tierney, outgoing chief executive of Suffolk Community Healthcare said: “I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the past three years and thank the team for all their hard work and dedication.
“Serco today hands over a safe and high-performing service which 99 per cent of patients and carers would recommend to their friends and family.
“While there have been some challenges along the way, we have put patients first and made substantial investments in the service and our people; innovations like the Care Co-ordination Centre will leave a positive and lasting legacy.
“We have been working closely with the incoming team to ensure a smooth transfer and wish them every success for the future.”