Community providers are already working hard to scale up their urgent community response (UCR) services both for the benefit of patients and system flow, having made swift progress since NHS England introduced a national direction to ensure a greater degree of consistency across these services. Amid significant operational pressures, impressive progress has been made over the last couple of years to meet national targets.

But community providers are ambitious about going further, faster and are striving to develop services and increase referrals by working closely with system partners. As providers and systems look to expand the delivery of UCR services, there are several national and local enablers that can help to increase the number of referrals into the service:

  1. NHS England and system partners, including community providers should raise awareness of UCR services at both a national and local level to support system partners to better understand how and when they should be used and to foster trusting relationships at local levels. Ensuring clinical leadership and buy in from community providers, social care, primary care and the ambulance sector remains particularly important.
  2. NHS England could use enablers, including the forthcoming planning guidance, to build greater system-level alignment in order to deliver more care in the community.
  3. The Community Network would welcome the opportunity to work with NHS England colleagues to review and co-produce further guidance on what should be recorded as part of national UCR data to address challenges around variation in referral rates.
  4. NHS England should commission a national evaluation of the benefits and outcomes of increased usage of UCR services, both for patients and wider health and care services.
  5. Greater prioritisation and investment in UCR services by both national government and local systems is key to ensuring community providers are appropriately resourced to meet demand.