Our Health Partnership hubs open up seven days a week extended hours access to GPs for over 470,000 Birmingham patients
More than 470,000 people across Birmingham can now visit a doctor in the evening, at weekends and during Bank Holiday periods thanks to a ground-breaking extended access project facilitated by Our Health Partnership – a consortium of GP partners supporting 61 practices across the city.
The move, which supports an NHS England initiative to offer extended access to routine care for all GP patients, is based around the creation of seven dedicated local hubs. Patients of practices part of, or aligned with, Our Health Partnership can book convenient appointment times around their normal working day.
The majority of the hubs, at Hall Green Health Centre, Oaks Medical Centre, Harlequin Surgery, Iridium Medical Practice, Ley Hill Medical Practice, Lordswood House Medical Practice were up and running following in September 2018 after six months of planning led by Our Health Partnership. The final hub, located at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Northfield, became operational on October 1st.
“The new service developed through Our Health Partnership responds to patient feedback which was universally welcoming and the service model was designed after extensive consultation with patients carried out by all the participating practices,” said Ridgacre Medical Centres GP Dr Philip Saunders, a Board member of Our Health Partnership who has acted as clinical lead during the creation of the extended access hubs.
The new extended hours service enables patients to pre-book a non-emergency weekend or evening appointment through their own surgery. They are then seen by a GP, nurse or other clinician at their nearest hub at a time best suited to their needs. Critically, the GP the patient sees at their local hub will always have full access to their patient notes enabling full continuity of care.
“It means that the GP practices working with us right across Birmingham can now offer more convenient appointments for people who find it difficult to come in during their normal working day – and also for people who rely on carers to get them to the surgery when those carers may have their own work commitments,” said Dr Saunders.
“In particular, it now means we can provide good preventative health care to the kind of patients whose working hours mean they only visit their GP when they are really poorly. This well-defined group is just as important to us as any other group of patients. Now we can provide them with more convenient times so they don’t miss out on available help and advice on ways of avoiding ill health and staying well.”
The last Our Health Partnership hub to go live is based at Northfield’s Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and currently unique in Birmingham in providing extended hours access to a GP or practice nurse within a hospital setting.
“Ultimately, new NHS provision requires more joined-up thinking than has been possible before and this project to deliver extended access is clearly demonstrating that both GPs and the Hospital are after the same thing when it comes to providing efficient, effective high-quality patient care,” commented Dr Saunders.
Potential future service development of the Our Health Partnership scheme include the introduction of online booking and ‘virtual’ appointments which would take advantage of live online video contact between patients and GPs.