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​​​​​​New community health service providers for Merton​

​Merton Clinical Commissioning Group and Merton Council has announced (7 October) that Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust has been identified as the preferred bidder for a three-year contract to provide a range of adult and children’s community services. Merton Clinical Commissioning Group also announced that Connect Physical Health has been identified as the preferred bidder for a new three-year contract for musculoskeletal (MSK) and outpatient physiotherapy services in the borough.

The announcement is the culmination of a thorough and detailed procurement process designed to deliver improved outcomes through community health services. The process was led by Merton GPs, Merton CCG and Merton Council, with the involvement of Merton residents, community groups, service users and carers.

The existing contract covers both Merton and Sutton and as it expires at the end of March 2016 needed to be re-procured. The CCG and Merton Council took the opportunity to set out the key priorities for improving and modernising local services in the borough and to ask local people how they wanted these services to operate.

Merton GP Dr Andrew Murray, Clinical Chair of Merton CCG, said: “Over the course of this year we have worked closely with Merton GPs, the council, patients and residents.  We have listened to what people told us about their experiences of community health services. I believe we have procured an innovative and outcomes-based model of care.

“Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust and Connect Physical Health are both being asked to meet a very high standard of care. The current provider has delivered a good level of care but I am satisfied that, subject to successful contract negotiations, the new providers will offer a service that more closely meets the needs of Merton residents.”

Dr Kay Eilbert, Director of Public Health for Merton Council, said:

“We participated closely in this very thorough process to procure the best services for Merton residents. This is an exciting opportunity for health services in Merton; and the council’s involvement in the appointment of Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust ensures that our public health services respond to local needs. This includes a strong focus on prevention, with front line community health staff helping people make healthy lifestyle choices to help them stay healthy for longer.”

The current provider of community services, Sutton and Merton Community Services, delivered by the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, will cease to be provided for Merton CCG on 31 March 2016. There will be a handover between  Merton Community Health Services and the new providers Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust and Connect Physical Health in the coming months.  The new providers will formally commence providing services on 1 April 2016.​

Work will now start on planning for implementation of the new contracts to ensure a smooth transition for patient care. Merton CCG and LB Merton will work closely with fellow commissioners and all affected providers as part of a process to minimise the impact of the changes on staff. Merton GPs will continue to be involved in the development of the new services to ensure that the new service models are effective and clinically robust.

NHS Merton CCG will now work with the preferred bidders to refine their implementation plans and clarify assumptions. The preferred bidder stage is a formal phase of the re-procurement exercise and does not signify a formal contract award. When this process is successfully concluded, the CCG’s decision to appoint the two organisations as providers will be confirmed, and contracts formally signed.