Ward Hadaway helps on new healthcare service
LAW firm Ward Hadaway has helped to play a part in bringing the new out of hours medical assistance service - NHS 111 - to the North East.
Experts from Ward Hadaway's public sector and commercial team advised the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) on a range of procurement and contractual issues surrounding the Trust's provision of the service to people across the region.
The NHS 111 service is aimed at people needing urgent medical help but where the circumstances are not life-threatening.
The 24-hour service was initially trialled in County Durham, where it was operated by NEAS.
The Trust then teamed up with Northern Doctors Urgent Care to jointly bid for the contract to supply the service across the North East, from Berwick down to Teesside.
This bid won the five-year contract to provide the service in November 2011 and the first phase of NHS 111 in the North East is now due to go live on 4 September 2012.
Ward Hadaway's public sector commercial team advised NEAS throughout the procurement process and on contractual arrangements with Northern Doctors Urgent Care on delivering the NHS 111 service.
Melanie Pears, Partner and Head of Public Sector at Ward Hadaway, led the firm's team advising NEAS.
Melanie said: "The NHS 111 service represents a major change in the way that urgent healthcare services are delivered to people right across the region, so we are delighted to have played a part in helping to bring the service to the North East.
"Having advised North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust for a number of years, we were able to work closely in partnership with our colleagues at the Trust in constructing and delivering the framework in which the 111 service will operate."
Under the system, callers will be able to ring 111 free of charge and will speak to fully trained advisers, backed up by experienced nurses.
Advisers will ask questions to assess callers' symptoms, then give the appropriate healthcare advice or direct them to the local service that can help them best.
This could be a hospital accident and emergency department, an out-of-hours doctor, a walk-in centre or urgent care centre, a community nurse, an emergency dentist or a late-opening chemist.
Where appropriate, the NHS 111 team will book an appointment for callers or transfer them directly to the people they need to speak to. If an ambulance is required, one will be sent just as quickly as it would be from a 999 call.
Melanie Pears said: "The North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust already provides the emergency 999 service across the region so they will be able to call on all that expertise for operating NHS 111.
"Northern Doctors Urgent Care currently provides a range of out-of-hours healthcare services in the region so in many ways this partnership represents an ideal combination of skills to provide expert help to people when they really need it."
NEAS became only the third ambulance trust in the country to achieve Foundation Trust status, when it was formally granted the status in October 2011.
As well as giving NEAS more independence when it comes to making key decisions about its future, the Foundation Trust status also means that local people have a greater influence over how NEAS operates in the future.
Ward Hadaway advises a wide range of healthcare organisations across the country, including Foundation Trusts, NHS Trusts, Primary Care Trusts and social enterprises.
The firm is also on legal panels for the NHS North East procurement hub, the Yorkshire and the Humber NHS Commercial Procurement Collaborative (YHCPC) and the North West Collaborative Commercial Agency (NWCCA), which together cover almost 100 healthcare organisations across the North of England.
Ward Hadaway has also advised on a number of ground-breaking projects in the healthcare sector, including the first pharmacy services outsourcing in the NHS and the North's first transfer of services from two Primary Care Trusts to an NHS Foundation Trust.