A new partnership has been appointed to run GP-led urgent care hubs in Croydon, replacing a privately run service using untrained receptionists to assess patient’s needs.

Staff from Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, Croydon GP Collaborative and AT Medics will provide urgent care services across the borough from April next year, working under the banner of Croydon Urgent Care Alliance.

The body will replace Virgin Care, the current urgent care operator at Croydon University Hospital, which has previously faced criticism about the way patients are “streamed for treatment” by non-clinical staff.

A CQC report on the urgent care centre at hospital, published in October 2013 after an inspection that July, said: “We were concerned that there was a risk of a patient with a serious illness or injury being wrongly streamed and their condition deteriorating.”

The report was published just two months after 30-year-old Madhumita Mandal died of multiple organ failure and sepsis caused by a ruptured ovarian cyst after a receptionist at the urgent care centre failed to refer her to a medic.

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Announcing the takeover, a Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) spokeswoman said: “Croydon CCG has selected Croydon Urgent Care Alliance as the preferred bidder to deliver the borough’s integrated urgent care service after a thorough procurement process.

“Whilst the new emergency department is being built, all patients are currently being seen and assessed on arrival by trained nurses from the emergency department at Croydon University Hospital.

“In the new seamless urgent care service, patients will be clinically assessed on arrival and streamed to the most appropriate service including A&E if it is a real emergency.”

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Madhumita Mandal, 30, died of multiple organ failure and sepsis caused by a ruptured ovarian cyst after a Virgin Care receptionist at the urgent care centre failed to refer her to a medic.

In February the CCG committed to establishing three hubs at Parkway Health Centre in New Addington, Purley War Memorial Hospital and Edridge Road walk-in centre after a review of urgent care.

It came after the CCG halved Purley hospital’s GP-led urgent care centre’s opening hours to six in 2014 - just months after the hospital’s £11.5m refurbishment – sparking huge public backlash.

Anthony Brzezicki, clinical chair of Croydon CCG, said: “The new urgent care service, which has been designed by and for local people, will improve the outcomes, safety and experience of local people, helping them to get the right treatment by the right person in the right place.”

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John Chan, chair of Croydon GP Collaborative said: “Bringing our services together will mean that people are not passed from pillar to post. Our structure aims to deliver one service, through one team and achieve one very-high standard – and that is to deliver outstanding quality care.”

Patient watchdog Healthwatch Croydon, which made several recommendations to the urgent care review including keeping the Purley centre open, welcomed the news.

Charlie Ladyman, Healthwatch chief executive, said: “This decision is good news for Croydon residents, as services are being designed in response to patient need. We are pleased to see so many of our recommendations being translated into the plans for this new service.”

Kathryn Channing, lead consultant for the emergency department at Croydon University Hospital said: “People who are very unwell will always be prioritised when they come to the emergency department, and will be seen straight away if their condition demands it – but we also see many other patients with non-urgent conditions who could get faster treatment elsewhere.

“Being part of the alliance means that no matter what your urgent or emergency care need is, you will be seen by one team, with the hospital and local GPs working together to provide the right care for you.”

The urgent care centre and out-of-hours service in Croydon hospital’s emergency department will continue under the plans.

The contract will run for three years from April 2017, with the option of a further two.

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