The formal search for a new provider for urgent care in Corby has begun.
The contract is up for the running of the popular healthcare centre in March, 2019 and so a new provider must be found.
Currently, the Urgent Care Centre is run by private firm Lakeside Plus at the current site in Cottingham Road.
But last year, Lakeside Plus said they could no longer afford to run it as they claimed they weren’t being paid enough money per patient by the Corby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
So the CCG said they would have to find a new operator.
Lakeside Plus agreed to step in temporarily to continue to provide services until 2010 while the CCG undertook their search for a new provider. Now that contract is up so a procurement process must begin which Lakeside Plus can bid for if they so wish.
To complicate matters, the CCG later announced the new contract will see services downgraded - with the centre being renamed the Same Day Access Hub, becoming appointment-based, only open to those with a Corby GP and with the loss of its well-used observation bays.
Since then, a campaign group called Save Our UCC has raised nearly £25,000 to challenge the decision not to consult over the downgrade.
A judicial review will take place on Monday when a judge will decide whether the CCG’s should have held a formal consultation into the new way of working.
The legal challenge has been criticised by the CCG which said it could mean that the town would be left without any urgent care services while the lengthy legal process concluded.
Now, just three days before the judicial review in Cardiff, the CCG have decided to announce it has begun its search for a new provider.
A statement released by the CCG this afternoon (Friday, July 20) said: “NHS Corby Clinical Commissioning Group has begun steps to safeguard the continuity of key health services for local people.
“The CCG’s Governing Body has committed to starting the formal search for an organisation to run the planned new Same Day Access Hub, which will provide GP-led care for minor injuries and illnesses needing to be dealt with quickly.
“The decision is designed to head off the risk of there being no service in place. The Hub will take up the work of Corby Urgent Care Centre (UCC), whose contract cannot continue beyond the end of March 2019.”
Dr Joanne Watt, Clinical Chair of the CCG, said: “We’re responsible for providing the clinical services our patients need, and have to ensure there’s no gap at the end of any contract. We need to start the procurement process now, because it can take many months to go through all the complex stages.
“Those people who currently use the Urgent Care Centre must be able to continue getting the medical help they need, without any break in service.”
The CCG has formally notified Lakeside Plus, the private company running the UCC, that it intends to commence procurement shortly, inviting tenders to run the Same Day Access Hub. In advance of that, it has asked Lakeside Plus for information needed to ensure a smooth transition.
The CCG says that it conducted a ‘major public engagement exercise’ into the new Hub service model. But the Save Our UCC group says a formal consultation was needed.
Dr Watt added: “Although we are awaiting the outcome of the Judicial Review, the implications of not beginning procurement are serious. We have to ensure continuity of care, for the benefit of the people of Corby.”
A spokeswoman for the Save Our UCC said: “The Save Corby Urgent Care Centre Action Group respect the commissioner’s desire to move forward, with the same respect they hold for the legal procedure on July 23.”