Temporary cap extended on GP at Hand registrations in Birmingham

A temporary cap on patients in Birmingham registering with Babylon GP at Hand has been extended because conditions for removing it have not been met, CCG bosses have said.

Smartphone (Photo: Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images)
Smartphone (Photo: Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images)

In June, the digital-first service was given permission to register patients in the Birmingham and Solihull area, but was restricted to 2,600 patients for the first three months.

At a meeting last month, Hammersmith and Fulham CCG - which hosts the service - agreed to lift the cap if key conditions were met. This included establishing a ‘robust automated solution’ to improve screening and access to local pathways by 15 September.

However, GPonline understands that the cap is set to remain in place because this work was not completed and is still ongoing. 

Patient list

A spokesperson for Hammersmith and Fulham CCG, said: ‘A technical solution to address the issues discussed at the primary care commissioning committee (PCCC) meeting in August has not yet been fully put in place.

‘In line with the committee’s decision, the limitations on registration numbers for the Birmingham site remain. The limitations will remain until the solution has been implemented.’

The spokesperson confirmed that the cap would be lifted as soon as the 'solution was in place and confirmed to be working' and promised an update at its October PCCC meeting.

Patients recruited from Birmingham are added to the same registered list as those from London - a list held through a subcontracting arrangement with a host practice in Fulham, south-west London.

GP at Hand was told in August that it could recruit additional patients to its list should it find a solution to implement an Organisation Data Service (ODS) code solution and pathways access in Birmingham, with Hammersmith and Fulham CCG reporting ‘good progress’.

GP at Hand

However, the CCG and GP at Hand have confirmed that the technical solution has not been put into place.

A Babylon spokeperson said: 'It’s disappointing that Hammersmith & Fulham CCG’s third-party providers haven’t been able to put their technical solutions in place, however, we’ve been reassured there won’t be a long delay and we are ready and waiting patiently until they have their systems in place.'

There was, however, some good news for the video consultation service as it was given the green light by commissioners to open two new physical clinics in London.  

The rapid expansion of GP at Hand, which offers predominantly remote consultations via smartphone or computer, has grown rapidly since opening its doors to patients outside its local area in November 2017, when the south-west London practice that hosts it had just 4,970 patients.

GPonline revealed last month that GP at Hand had the fifth largest registered list of any GP service in England. Figures for the start of August show that the total number of patients registered with the service is just shy of 60,000, after an 8,000-patient increase in the past three months alone.

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