Urgent Community Response standards: How community providers can build on progress made during COVID-19

Miriam Deakin profile picture

23 November 2020

Miriam Deakin
Director of Policy and Strategy


Community health providers are now firmly in the midst of a challenging second wave of COVID-19. Alongside this, providers are also contending with the need to maintain non-COVID and COVID-related services (like surge beds, care home in-reach teams and rapid response), and deliver the upcoming COVID-19 vaccination programme, alongside workforce pressures, a growing demand for services, and a swelling backlog of care. Many providers and their staff are feeling stretched, leaving little room to focus on strategic goals.

Despite these pressures, providers and systems have taken great strides in implementing and sustaining the discharge to assess model, often supported by the work of rapid response teams. In some areas, this has accelerated progress towards implementing the urgent community response (UCR) two hour and two day standards set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. While some providers redeployed staff to new rapid response teams, others built on their long-standing rapid response services which were up and running long before the pandemic hit.

To support this implementation and share learning across the country, the Community Network (supported by NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) are inviting community health providers to join a new COVID-19 and UCR learning collaborative. This will start on 25 November 12:00pm-1:30pm.

UCR and other rapid response type services have an integral role in helping overcome the immediate challenges facing local systems.

Miriam Deakin    Director of Policy and Strategy

UCR and other rapid response type services have an integral role in helping overcome the immediate challenges facing local systems. These services provide an integrated response to patients alongside the discharge process requirements, Think 111 and the current restoration of wider services in the community and beyond.

While the Long Term Plan has a clear and ambitious ask of community services to deliver on the two standards before April 2024, there are real benefits to progressing implementation now. Providers can utilise the funding that is already available, and crucially, support patients more effectively in the community.

The two response standards support the introduction of a more standardised approach to delivering UCR services across each system and nationally. NHSE/I's ambition is for UCR services to be a recognisable option for patients across England and a great place for staff to work and build careers in.

Additionally, the delivery of consistent UCR services at scale will help to provide integrated community-based care.

Miriam Deakin    Director of Policy and Strategy

Additionally, the delivery of consistent UCR services at scale will help to provide integrated community-based care that works in partnership with urgent emergency care, primary and acute services (as well as wider partners such as social care and the voluntary and community sector) which all providers want to see.

To support providers and systems' work on delivering the UCR standards at pace, NHSE/I will be working with the seven UCR accelerator sites and the Community Network to launch a new UCR Learning Collaborative. This will be a learning community for UCR leaders and practitioners, which will start with a series of six interactive monthly webinars and online support.

This initial round of events will run from November 2020 to March 2021 and specifically focus on:

  • supporting providers and systems to understand and meet the NHS Long-Term Plan requirements regarding the delivery of new two-hour and two-day access standards.
  • strengthening the skills and knowledge of UCR leaders by facilitating peer learning and sharing tools that can support the development of local UCR models.


The first webinar will be held on 25 November between 12:00pm and 1.30pm and hosted by Matthew Winn. To sign-up for the webinar series click here.

About the author

Miriam Deakin profile picture

Miriam Deakin
Director of Policy and Strategy
@MiriamDeakin

Miriam is our director of policy and strategy and is currently leading our programme of work on sustainability and transformation partnerships and accountable care to inform our influencing activities on trusts’ behalf and ensure we are offering the support that trusts and their partners need to deliver new, collaborative arrangements. Read more

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