Flashback Friday: New Era in Primary Care Services Begins in South Birmingham

LEADING local doctors will be starting to introduce new services to patients in South Birmingham this week, thanks to a £2.4 million grant from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.

The successful bid will take forward the My Healthcare project, which will provide additional appointments from three network hubs at times that will include early mornings, evenings and weekends. The first hub, West Heath Surgery, goes live on Wednesday 1 July, and will provide additional extended access appointments to patients registered at seven practices within a three mile radius of the hub. Patients will be offered this additional flexibility of appointment times when they call their own surgery to book an appointment in the usual way.  

My Healthcare Programme Director Nirmal Vora said:  “This is a very exciting project that will allow us to offer appointments to people at times that suit them.  It means that there is much more flexibility for people who find it difficult to fit a visit to their doctor into standard opening times. There are many patients who will be helped by this: people who find it difficult to get time off work, or people who rely on working friends and relatives to drive them to their doctor’s surgery. They will now find it much easier to fit visits to the doctor into their lives at times that are most convenient to them.”

As well as providing extra appointments, the project will look to use digital technology to improve services to patients. 

“In future, we will be able to offer extra options as well as traditional methods, with digital technology, such as Skype, instant messaging and live chat, to get consultations more quickly and at times that are more convenient for them,” continued Nirmal Vora.  “There is an added benefit that this will allow clinicians more time to spend with patients who have complex long-term needs.”

The new services will be rolled out over the summer to two further hubs: River Brook Medical Centre in Stirchley and Fernley Medical Centre in Sparkhill, to 123,000 registered patients.

Dr Naresh Chauhan, My Healthcare’s Medical Director said: ““The model has been developed over a number of years using feedback from patients, healthcare workers and our own staff and will give our patients better access to more integrated services.

Future model for primary care

Dr Chauhan continued: “We will be taking the first steps in creating a future model for primary health care, which others will follow,” he continued. “We are delighted that it is our patients who will be the first to benefit from these improved standards of service.  We’ll be working hard to make this project a success and in doing so, ensure that not only will it continue beyond the 12 month pilot but can be extended to include all of the practices across Birmingham South Central CCG.”

The GP services will be supported by pharmacy, nursing, lifestyle and wellbeing services, together with access to voluntary sector organisations and health promotion services.  

Partners include South Doc Services, Birmingham South Central Clinical Commissioning Group, West Midlands Ambulance Service, NHS 111, South Birmingham Walk-In Centre, Birmingham Community Healthcare, Gateway Family Services, Citizens Advice Bureau, Digital Life Sciences and Substrakt Health– specialists in creating innovative digital methods to reach health services.

Ash Vora