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GP at Hand set to apply to be single network in ‘destabilising’ move

by Anviksha Patel
2 May 2019

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Babylon GP at Hand is in the process of registering as its own primary care network, our sister publication Pulse has learned.
Babylon said it is ‘well placed’ to become a network and may include other ‘like-minded’ practices.
The Londonwide LMC has expressed concern over this move, which it says will ‘disrupt the system to the point of destruction’.
It is concerned that the digital-first service will breach the rule that networks must exist within local boundaries.
Currently, groups of practices are advised to cover 30,000-50,000 patients, but CCGs may sign off on proposals for networks serving a population over 50,000.
Our sister publication Pulse, where this article was first published, reported this week that GP at Hand has almost 50,000 patients registered, but only 10% of those patients are based in Hammersmith and Fulham.
‘The same rule book?’
Chief executive of Londonwide LMC Dr Michelle Drage said this move by Babylon will ‘destabilise all current NHS services in London.’
She said: ‘It looks like they intend to disrupt the system to the point of destruction, with the consequence of further destabilising all current NHS services in London as GP, community and hospital funding moves to covering people in clearly defined geographical areas.
‘In accordance with the Network DES, negotiated nationally between the BMA’s GP Committee and NHS England, commissioners have been clear to local GP practices that their networks must exist inside contiguous boundaries.
‘We ask the CCG, NHS England and the Secretary of State – who is a registered patient and public advocate for Babylon GP at Hand – will all GP practices and networks be governed by the same rule book?’
Pulse recently reported that Hammersmith and Fulham CCG are facing a £31.8m deficit from the growing patient list size with GP at Hand.
A spokesperson from Londonwide LMC told Pulse that there are currently six networks planned in the Hammersmith and Fulham area and that GP at Hand had not expressed any interest in joining those networks.
‘Well placed to be a primary care network’
A Babylon GP at Hand spokesperson said: ‘With the strong links already formed with community providers, and nearly 50,000 registered patients, Babylon GP at Hand is well placed to be a primary care network.
‘This network may of course also include other practices that share the vision of highly accessible, high-quality care.’
They added: ‘The NHS has called for primary care networks to make it easier for patients to see a GP and for GP practices to be open for longer – this is exactly what Babylon GP at Hand does, patients can see a GP, often within 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, every day of the year.
‘The NHS wants practices to share information and technology, make it easier to get advice from health professionals, book appointments online, have remote testing and use online consultations.
‘They want to ensure that whoever you see in your area, the health professional has access to your medical history so they can give the care you need.
‘In short, primary care networks are about improving care for patients, not restricting them, and Babylon GP at Hand does all of these things very well.’
The deadline to submit paperwork is 15 May and Babylon is on track to meet the deadline, Pulse understands.
A spokesperson from NHS Hammersmith and Fulham CCG said: ‘The practices within Hammersmith and Fulham CCG continue to have discussions about network configuration. As expected, some of the emerging networks are more defined at this point than others.
‘As you will be aware, the CCG has a facilitation role and we are encouraging practices to have discussions about form and function to ensure that the network criteria and aspirations for the five-year framework are met.
They added: ‘This includes the Babylon GP at Hand practice, and we will continue to facilitate discussion on network options with the practice, neighbouring practices, the Hammersmith and Fulham GP Federation and NHS England.’
The GPC have previously said the greenlight for the GP at Hand expansion to other cities before the independent review on the service ‘simply beggars belief.’ 
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.