Connecting Urgent Community Response (UCR) teams and TEC responder services – the call for a new delivery mode

March 27, 2022 4:20 pm

By Kath Evans, Deputy Director of UCR, NHS England and Improvement, and Alyson Scurfield, Chief Executive of TSA

Every week about 18,000 999 calls are made by technology enabled care (TEC) responder services to help people who need urgent care or support.

It’s a lifeline – helping people to live at home, independently, safe in the knowledge that if their health suddenly deteriorates or they lose mobility, perhaps from a fall, they can press their technology enabled care alarm and get help.

That individual may need a clinical assessment and treatment, often resulting in the call for an ambulance, a trip to A&E and possible admission.

Over the past year though, clinicians within UCR have started working in the community and responding within two hours when someone needs urgent care.

These urgent community response teams – experienced and highly competent nurses,  therapists, social workers, carers and support staff – will see the patient in their home, assess them, order tests if required, diagnose and administer treatments, with many able to prescribe medication on the spot.

In a nutshell, it’s often better for the patient or service user if they can stay at home safely, rather than endure a trip to hospital in an ambulance and potential admission.

From April, these teams will operate everywhere in England 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Over the next year, they will be expected to take on more referrals and respond within 2 hours to over 70% of referrals.

In recent months, NHS England has been working with the TEC Services Association (TSA) – as the industry body for technology-enabled care providers – to look at how urgent community response teams and technology responder services can work more closely together – making sure that patients get the right care at the right time 24-hours a day.

This is a wonderful partnership of health, local authority and TEC sectors that is creating a cohesive, wraparound service and quality outcomes for people within their communities.

Indeed, in Warrington, the UCR team has joined forces with the council’s responder service to now offer more integrated care pathways for patients in urgent need.  Their collaboration also includes a falls responder service, which includes specialist lifting equipment and expertise. This will get care to patients urgently in a crisis, take pressure off ambulance services, reduce A&E attendances and avoid hospital admissions.

In June, the TSA and NHS England and Improvement will start a field trail on a new triage and decision-support tool in two parts of the country.  This will help identify people who should now be referred to UCR teams rather than ambulance services. To support this, TEC providers will be able to find the right local UCR service through the NHS Service Finder application.

The experience for people needing urgent care as well as the services involved will be evaluated, alongside the impact of ambulance callouts and hospital admission.

With the successful conclusion of the trial, the TSA aims to adopt the approach into its Quality Standards Framework.

In the meantime, there’s nothing to stop UCR teams and TEC providers and responder services from connecting and exploring how they can work closely together for patients in their areas.

Warrington is leading the way and demonstrating the potential for developing integrated care in the community – we’d love the rest of the country to follow suit.

Calls to action: creating local opportunities to collaborate

For UCR teams:

Reach out to local councils and providers of local Technology Enabled Care (TEC) and agree pathways to reduce the demand on 999 ambulance services through the re-direction of appropriate patients

Refresh your local Directory of Services (DoS) so that NHS Service Finder profiles are accurate, up to date and are updated to show that UCR teams will accept referrals from health & social care colleagues including TEC providers

If you are already offering UCR to TEC services and Responder services, we would like to hear from you about good practice. Email

For technology-enabled care providers:

For national providers Access to NHS Service Finder  will be part of the pilot – all providers can link up with their UCR teams through their local NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG).

Contact your local NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG) to link up with UCR teams in your area

Understand how your local TEC Response Services can support UCR in response to escalating need.

A five-step guide has been produced for ICSs. It starts by asking ICSs to map the range of TEC providers in their area and quantify the scale of the opportunity.

More information on UCR is available here


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