Published: 20:05, 23 October 2017
The contractor providing an out-of-hours service and the NHS 111 service in East Kent has ended its contract sooner than expected.
Primecare had told the Clinical Commissioning Groups covering Ashford, Dover, Canterbury, Thanet and Shepway it intended to terminate its contract by next July - barely a year into a three-year agreement.
However, it has now invoked a clause in the contract to speed up the termination of the contract - ending the provision of the two services in December.
GPs have been told that the services will be provided on an interim basis by a new provider, Integrated Care 24, known as IC24.
The news will come as a surprise after Primecare had intimated that it was striving to work more closely with GPS and had not ruled out continuing with the contract beyond next July.
The company had a chequered history since taking over the contract in 2016.
It was the subject of a damning inspection that said it was failing to provide a safe service and was putting patients at risk.
The Care Quality Commission also issued warning notices to the company saying it was ineffective, not well led and patient care needed improvement.
Simon Perks, the chief accountable officer for Ashford and Canterbury CCGs, said last month despite efforts to turn round performance, there remained problems and admitted the contract procurement process had gone wrong.
There is now an inquiry into the procurement process.
At the time Primecare took over, the four CCGs said there had been a “rigourous and thorough procurement” and the “joined-up service... would give patients a better experience.”
Primecare issued a statement confirming it was ending the contract early.
“Nestor Primecare Services Limited has served the East Kent Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) with three months’ notice, in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between both parties."
“As such, Primecare will neither provide out-of-hours GP and nurse-led services in East Kent, nor continue to operate the East Kent NHS 111 service, beyond 1 December 2017.
“We will now prepare to hand over management of the NHS 111 and out-of-hours GP and nurse-led service to another provider, during which time continuity of patient care and patient safety will be guaranteed by a smooth transition phase.”
The CCG has been approached for comment.
and the CCGs were approached for comment.