In a recent report, the government’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) awarded an innovative NHS “Virtual Centre” based here at West Heath Medical Centre it’s highest “outstanding” rating. The SDS MyHealthcare GP Federation Virtual Centre enables our patients and others across Birmingham to book telephone and video consultations with a GP, nurse practitioner or prescribing pharmacist – seven days a week.

The SDS MyHealthcare GP Federation (SDS MyHealthcare) has 56 member practices across Birmingham including, of course, this one. Between them, members have a patient list of around 350, 000. Every member practice has full access to the Virtual Centre, which is based at West Heath Medical Centre. SDS MyHealthcare is supported by NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Other virtual services include an app for patients, and a new and convenient telephone-based Prescription Ordering Department. Nirmal Vora, CEO at SDS MyHealthcare and Managing Partner at West Heath Surgery, said:

“We’re delighted to receive this prestigious rating from CQC, and I’d like to thank the CCG for their ongoing backing. As an innovative partner, we’re keen to bring the NHS’s online offering into the modern era. Patients already enjoy outstanding digital experiences in the retail and entertainment sectors, for example, and we’re determined to add public healthcare to that list.

“As an NHS initiative,” Nirmal went on, “we are ideally placed to have full access to all its many services. This gives us a unique advantage over the private sector. But to be truly successful, it’s vital that our technology outperforms that of our commercial rivals. This is why we’re working hard to improve our video consultations and app capabilities even further.”

Compassion, kindness, dignity and respect

The CQC report praised the effective and appropriate care SDS MyHealthcare provide. It said that “staff involved and treated patients with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect.” “Patients and GP practices,” the report stated, “found the service benefited them and allowed patients to access care and treatment in a more responsive way.”

Innovation and strong leadership at all levels

CQC highlighted SDS MyHealthcare’s “innovation and continuous learning” and “strong leadership at all levels”. They said SDS MyHealthcare had “clear systems to manage risk”, and “actively engaged staff when reviewing policies”.

Outstanding partnerships and app

CQC drew attention to two areas of SDS MyHealthcare’s “outstanding practice”. The first area was their patient-facing app. The app allows patients access to appointments, prescription management, medical records, lifestyle and long-term condition management advice. Currently being rolled out, it is already available to 180, 000 CCG patients.

The second area covered the partnerships SDS MyHealthcare has formed with external healthcare providers. These partnerships extend the range of services they could provide to patients. For example, patients were able to book appointments with a physiotherapist through the virtual service. This was instead of being referred to community services first. As a result, waiting times were cut from weeks to a few days.

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