ACE notice image

NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEECCG) has decided to issue 12 months’ notice on a community services contract provided by Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE).

Providing services such as community nursing, falls prevention, audiology, cardiology and ophthalmology to residents across Colchester and Tendring, the seven-year Care Closer to Home contract was awarded to ACE in 2015.

The contract aimed to focus on the needs of patients out in the community and in their homes, rather than putting additional pressure on overstretched hospitals.

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However, NEECCG and its partners have decided to issue a “no fault” notice on the contract so that they can a procure a new contract that will further support their aims of delivering more integrated care between local primary care, social care and community services, and acute hospital care.

According to NEECCG, this move will provide a more sustainable service for the future and link in closely with its voluntary sector partners and local councils in Colchester and Tendring.

Dr Ed Garratt, Chief Executive of the NEECCG, said: “Over the past five years, staff at ACE have worked tirelessly to ensure local people and patients receive the care and treatment they need closer to their home.

“We are grateful to them for all of their hard work and we would like to assure their excellent staff that there will be a positive future for them locally.

“The CCG will continue to work closely with ACE to ensure there is a smooth transition to the new arrangements and we thank them for their professionalism.”

In response to this notice, ACE has that is disappointed with NEECCG’s decision, as a review of the Care Closer to Home service last year demonstrated very high levels of user satisfaction, with ACE’s services scoring more than four out of five in every domain of HealthWatch Essex’s user survey.

In addition, the review found that ACE complied with more than nine out of 10 of its contract KPIs in each of the last three years.

Frank Sims, Chief Executive of ACE, said: “I am saddened to learn about the CCG’s decision. ACE has always been committed to ensuring people have had access to the best possible care across Colchester and Tendring and this is reflected in very high level of service user satisfaction.

“Given the finding of the review we are disappointed with the NEECCG decision and this is particularly difficult for staff who have worked brilliantly over the last few months to deliver safe and innovative care during the COVID pandemic.”

Although ACE scored highly in HealthWatch Essex’s user survey last year, the review found that the level of system-wide integration achieved through Care Closer to Home fell short of commissioner aspirations or ACE’s stated ambitions.

However, ACE stressed that the review also outlined that: “It was unrealistic to expect a single organisation to successfully achieve integration when the system as a whole has not been ready for such ambitious change.”

Frank continued: “Our response to COVID has been nothing short of exceptional and I have no doubt that our staff will continue to perform at the highest possible level in these difficult times.

“We will now do all we can to work with the CCG and partners in the North East Essex system to ensure our hard working staff are supported at this time and we continue to provide safe, caring and innovative services for our local population.”

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