Transforming health and care in Thurrock: A blog from the Thurrock Integrated Care Alliance – January 2022

As Alliance Directors for Thurrock, our teams have worked through what has been one of the most challenging times our NHS has seen and is likely to ever see again in our lifetime. But out of adversity, we have been able to further cement our partnership working with council, provider and community colleagues.

Our partners in Thurrock, include Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group, Thurrock Council, Community and Voluntary Services, providers of health, mental health and community services, EPUT, NELFT, Provide – have continued to champion the transformation of services to meet the needs of individuals, not a one size fits all offer. Each and every one has carried on pushing for better, more joined up services. This is the Better Care Together Thurrock ethos, which began in 2018 and has continued to flourish. It sits behind one of our most ambitious programmes, the Integrated Medical Centres, of which four are planned to be provided in Thurrock.

The Integrated Medical Centres (IMCs) have been spoken about since 2016, these ambitious builds are the embodiment of integrated care, bringing together community, health, mental health, social care and diagnostics under one roof. Each centre will offer something unique to the locality and they will be based on the needs of the population they serve.

We’ve heard recently from members of the public and their representatives, about misconceptions they have about these buildings. For example, the IMCs will see new GP practices arrive – this is simply not within our gift. Only existing contracted GPs are able to take up a place at the new building. But it supports better partnership working, and involvement of primary care in the Better Care Together Thurrock ethos. There will also have access to state of the art facilities, access to multi-disciplinary teams and onsite facilities such taking bloods, and for some IMCs mobile x-ray, and other imaging units as well as holistic services, such as psychological therapies and social prescribing.

These builds are hugely complicated, as they have to meet the needs of all the providers, and be flexible enough that the facilities can be used for multiple purposes. They have to deliver value for the Thurrock pound and provide a lasting legacy for the people of Thurrock. There are huge building challenges to achieve net Zero Carbon and be accessible for all. Funding is a big issue too, but we believed it could be done and so a herculean effort to complete the first IMC in Corringham will be something to celebrate. NELFT intend to be able to open this building in Spring 2022, and it will not only benefit Corringham and Stanford le Hope residents, but also families can use the community, health and social care facilities from across the borough.

Next to open is likely to be Purfleet on Thames’s IMC, in 2024, Tilbury in 2024 and finally Grays in 2025. It is only when all four IMCs are open that Orsett Hospital will then be able to close and the services be delivered closer to home in the IMCs.

We want people to see these IMCs as an opportunity to cement in more of the good practice and partnership working we already see in pockets in Thurrock. We want them to be a springboard to continued transformation and improvement of health and care services across Thurrock.

Find out more about the IMCs and Better Care Together Thurrock here: www.bettercaretogetherthurrock.org

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