People across Bucks will have “new and improved” access to urgent care services from this month.

The new Thames Valley IUC 111 service will aim to help people access a range of clinical care, including dental, pharmacy and mental health services, through a single call.

Health bosses said the contract was awarded by the 10 Clinical Commissioning Groups across the Thames Valley in July 2017, after a “thorough and rigorous” procurement process involving clinicians, specialists and NHS managers in the decision-making.

Speaking after the launch of the service last week, Philip Astle, chief operating officer at South Central Ambulance Service, said: “From today, patients will continue to call the 111 number and the trained call handler will assess the person’s needs.

“They will be able to arrange for the patient to see or speak to a clinically trained healthcare professional, including GPs where this is clinically appropriate.

“It is expected that approximately 30 per cent of calls will be handled by a clinically trained healthcare professional from day one of the new service.

“For the launch, clinicians will be based at SCAS Headquarters in Bicester and at the Berkshire Healthcare Hub in Wokingham, linked via a telephone network to allow seamless management of patients.”

Sam Burrows, the senior responsible officer for the procurement process, said: “In 2015, NHS England announced that NHS 111 would integrate with out-of-hours providers to form an integrated urgent care model with the intention of delivering a more streamlined service, increasing the chance of getting the patient to the right place, first time.

“To bring about the Thames Valley Integrated Urgent Care (TVIUC) service, a new specification was developed, with an enhanced form of triage, a new workforce, new commissioning standards and quality measures.

“Clinical governance of this new model will be a joint process with regional leadership and central oversight.”

Mr Burrows added: “Patients will be confident that, with one call to 111, the care they are directed to will meet their physical, mental and social care needs in a timely and clinically safe manner.

“Health and social care professionals will be confident that the 111 integrated urgent care service has assessed and managed patients appropriately, placing them with the service which can most effectively meet their needs.”