The group of GPs which commission health services locally have decided to award the contract to deliver community services, including the minor injuries units and district nurses, to a new provider.
Over 18 months ago the High Weald Lewes Havens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) served notice on the current provider East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, so that the service could be redesigned. The CCG wanted to expand the range of services, and improve the quality and consistency of community-based healthcare.
There were also concern about the number of times the Minor Injury Unit in Crowborough had been closed. Last year the CCG decided to withhold funds from East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust for not delivering services as contracted.
Now the CCG have made Sussex Community NHS Trust the preferred bidder to take over running services from the Autumn. The contract will include the Minor Injury Unit, intermediate care beds and the rehabilitation unit at Crowborough Hospital, as well as district nurses who visit patients in their home.
Chantel Wilson, the Chairman of Friends of Crowborough Hospital, congratulated the CCG for a bold decision to change the contract:
The Friends of Crowborough Hospital welcomes the way in which the majority of services at Crowborough hospital (excluding the birthing centre) will be delivered from November this year. We will be in the hands of the Sussex Healthcare Alliance, headed up by the Sussex Community Trust. It makes senses for a Trust which is set up to provide community services to be taking the lead. The Community Trust has brought together a partnership of providers, including acute hospitals like Tunbridge Wells, so the continuity of care should work far better than in the past and we are looking forward to a much more imaginative approach to what services are delivered.
Sussex Community NHS Trust (SCT) is the main provider of community services across Brighton & Hove and West Sussex. Under the banner Sussex Healthcare Alliance, SCT will lead a partnership of other NHS providers and voluntary organisations, including Age UK, Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (which runs Pembury Hospital), and Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in East Grinstead.
The CCG have said a new model of care has been designed to meet the specific needs and geography of local people by bringing care closer to home, utilise the full potential of community hospitals, including Crowborough, and reduce demand on acute hospitals.
Paula Head, Chief Executive of Sussex Community NHS Trust said:
I am delighted that SCT has been successful in this bid. Patient care is at the heart of what we do as a community trust and this is an exciting opportunity to extend our services to a wider Sussex population. We have innovative plans to work in partnership to ensure the very best services are available. Our vision is for people to experience excellent, localised, seamless healthcare and we look forward to working with the CCG to make this a reality for people in the High Weald Lewes Havens area.
The CCG will now be working closely with GPs and the preferred bidder over the coming months to award the contract and plan for the start of the new service. The new service will be introduced in phases with small developments expected to go live in November 2015.
Patients should continue to use services in the same way and talk to their GP about their health needs in the first instance.