THE historic handover of Haslemere Hospital services from Virgin Care to a pioneering partnership between Royal Surrey County Hospital (RSCH) and a consortium of local GP practices, was the main talking point at the League of Friends (LoF) AGM.

RSCH and ProCare, a federation of 18 GP practices, successfully bid against Virgin Care for the adult community services contract for Guildford and Waverley.

The contract is worth £13.8million annually and will run for nine years.

Former Virgin Care staff members, who number more than 260, were transferred under an agreement protecting terms and conditions of employment when the new contract commenced at the start of this financial year.

In her annual report at last month’s AGM, LoF chairman Rose Parry said: “As always there is a continuous change in the local health economy which keeps us on our toes.

“The change in contract now means Virgin Care no longer manage any of the services in, or on, the Haslemere Hospital site.

“The staff are now employed by the new organisation.

“This new partnership with the acute sector is an innovative arrangement and it is hoped will provide a more seamless supporting organisation for caring for patients in the community.

“Guildford and Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) remain the responsible organisation for commissioning our health care.

“However, they work in a partnership arrangement with Northwest Surrey and Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Groups. This organisation is called Surrey Heartlands.

“The aim of Surrey Heartlands is to bring together clinicians and other health and care staff – alongside patients, their carers and families, members of the public – to think through how they can collectively transform services so patients registered with a Surrey GP have access to modernised and transformed modalities of care,” the chairman added.

“It is hoped this model of working, will create a real partnership that will make a positive difference to people locally.

“It should also reduce the amount of duplication designing services across the different CCGs.

“The partnership encompasses all local NHS organisations, Surrey County Council and the voluntary sector.

“We have been assured the needs of Waverley, which is the most rural part of Surrey Heartlands, will be taken into consideration when changes of service delivery are made.

“NHS Property Company who own and mange the estate at the hospital is unchanged under the new community contract arrangements.”

The meeting heard that thanks to support from Haslemere Rotary, some football teams who played for the Hospital Cup, and Care in Haslemere, the LoF has been able to fund different initiatives to benefit patients at the hospital over the past year.

The group now provides Kindles for patients, following the installation of wi-fi on the wards with internet access.

It has purchased new bedside tables for the patient areas, which are fully compliant with the stringent infection control regulations in hospitals.

The tables have single surfaces that can be cleaned thoroughly. LoF has also supported the physiotherapy department with a pelvic floor model for the treatment of female health.