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Birmingham digital GP centre rated ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC

A digital GP centre in Birmingham has been rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

South Doc Services (SDS) Limited provides virtual primary care services for the SDS MyHealthcare GP federation, which is run at several hubs across Birmingham and involve more than 47 GP practices, covering around 300,000 registered patients.

Each practice has full access to the virtual centre, based at West Heath Medical Centre, which was inspected by the CQC in April 2018.

The digital service allows patients to book telephone and video consultations with a GP, nurse practitioner or prescribing pharmacist seven days a week.

Other virtual services include an App for patients to access appointments and medical records. The CQC report, published in July 2018, noted that some 6,000 patients have registered for the app so far.

Patients are also able to order prescriptions over the phone. Since October last year, this service has taken over 30,000 calls.

Patients have praised the service, saying it “makes it easy” to talk to a doctor. The GPs have found they now see fewer of the less complex cases, allowing them to concentrate on people with long-term conditions and multiple morbidities, and there is also anecdotal evidence it reduces pressure on A&E services.

The virtual centre was launched in 2015 and is part of a pilot project initially funded by the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund set up to help improve access to general practice and stimulate innovative ways of providing primary care services.

The service is part of a larger ambition within NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG to ensure the delivery of an improved and sustainable primary and urgent care system, which operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and ensures that the population receives safe, high-quality and seamless care from easily-accessible, appropriate, integrated and responsive services.