Community providers are working towards optimising the benefits of urgent community response (UCR) services for patients and system flow. The national target of responding to 70% of UCR referrals within two hours has been met consistently since it started in April 2022, and the number of referrals has increased over the last year. With demand on urgent and emergency care pathways particularly high, UCR services have the potential to play a greater role with the right resources.

UCR services form a crucial part of the long-term vision of community care. Leaders and staff within community providers are ambitious about the potential of these services and say there is scope to continue driving up the number of patients who benefit from UCR services, including through boosting referrals into the service from key system partners.

According to the latest national data, there were 73,455 referrals to UCR services in October 2023, which is a significant increase from 48,860 in October2022. Of this number, 37.5% of referrals came from the person themselves, their carer or relative, while only 15.6% came from a general medical practitioner practice and 8.4% from an ambulance service. This reflects feedback from Community Network members that there is more scope to increase the number of referrals from system partners to UCR services, and a role for both systems and national policymakers in supporting this.