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Babylon recruiting GPs for Birmingham NHS surgery despite CCG block

Exclusive Private company Babylon is recruiting GPs for an expansion of its NHS offering in Birmingham - despite its plans currently being blocked by commissioners.

As Pulse reported earlier this month, Babylon wants to add a physical presence in the UK’s second-largest city so it can begin offering its GP at Hand app to NHS patients based there.

It has already signed up over 30,000 NHS patients from across London to the app since its November launch of the service, which pledges an online consultation within two hours and a face-to-face appointment at one of a number of London locations the next day if required.

The Birmingham expansion would still be via its NHS host practice Dr Jefferies and Partner in southwest London, via the out-of-area registration scheme, and as such require the go-ahead of NHS Hammersmith and Fulham CCG.

But earlier this month CCG board papers revealed that it had so far blocked the plans, because of concerns over patient safety.

Despite this, Babylon is advertising two showcase events this week for Birmingham-based GPs who want to be part of its ‘amazing journey’ and who ‘would flourish in one of the most dynamic environments in the UK’.

Headlined ‘Babylon health are coming to Birmingham!’, the advert states: 'Babylon are looking for enthusiastic, motivated GPs to provide excellent clinical service to our growing patient list.’

Asked about the campaign, Babylon’s director of NHS services Paul Bate told Pulse: ‘Yes, that’s correct… We are recruiting, although we won’t go live with the service without the approval of [NHS] Hammersmith and Fulham CCG, as that is what’s required.’

He added that while the plans continue to be considered by the CCG, the company’s ‘intentions to offer the service in Birmingham remain’.

He said: ‘It is contingent on the [CCG] decision, and they’re continuing to look at that, as they made clear in their July committee meeting. I think it will be coming back to the committee in August.’

A Babylon spokesperson added: ‘We are recruiting for a GP at Hand clinic in Birmingham, in order to offer people across the city convenient access to 24/7 high quality NHS GP care - typically within two hours of booking an appointment. The decision on the expansion of the GP at Hand service lies with [NHS] Hammersmith and Fulham CCG.’

The company said it had no target for how many GPs it wants to recruit in Birmingham at present.

Online GP appointments coming to Birmingham

Babylon said earlier this year that it was looking to expand its NHS app to patients in other cities in the UK.

The company has also recently been in talks with Birmingham-based GP superpractice Modality about becoming the technology provider for its in-house online appointment offering.

And Pulse revealed earlier this year that Push Doctor was approaching Birmingham GP practices in a bid to provide its services to NHS patients. The company currently offers video GP consultations 'within minutes', at a cost of £20, to private patients.

Last month the new health secretary Matt Hancock said that he is a GP at Hand user and thinks the service is 'brilliant'.

And in his first speech since taking the role, Mr Hancock said that the NHS should ensure that new technology such as Babylon's GP at Hand app becomes available to all patients.

But GP leaders including the the BMALondonwide LMCs and the RCGP have raised concerns about the app's 'cherry picking' of fit, young and healthy patients - a claim Babylon denies.

Readers' comments (11)

  • Why is Birmingham so worried???

    For example, The Modality Group is huge in Birmingham. Surely competition is a good thing amongst providers isn't it???

    I am sure our leaders in the profession would welcome competition-isn't this is also what the CQC wants ????

    The objections all seem very strange, please explain???

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  • Last man standing 1.14 lol live by the sword, die by the sword. Huge companies hoovering up patients and then another comes along and unpleasantly tries to pilfer all their easy ones so they go crying to mummy....

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  • This is really about recruiting bodies for the core phone service and not GPatHand.

    The waits can be surprisingly long.

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  • Crying to Mummy as Modality may have somebody on the inside while Babylon wishes to enter without backhanders on it's own clout and merits - everything is possible where money is involved:)

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  • There is always a bigger bully in the school yard.

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  • Babylon can help take off some pressure but it can also increase consultations just like 111. See your GP.....The NHS should refuse to treat any mistakes from the private sector. They are not doing child protection (not that it is very effective) or treating the difficult old and complex patients.

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  • Me tink dat dis Baby-lon outfit myght hav dus..t upset da family-ya know what ey mean ??

    Ya donna wanna mess wid da big boys !

    Birmingham ain't their turf-remember dat.

    Let's hope dey donna get a "horses head" in da post...!

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  • Free advertising for Babylon here

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  • important point re adverts! 'a highly selective digital based organisation' is trying to take on 'a locally based, intimately connected organisation' in a competition to drive primary care (previously general practice) into bankruptcy taking the NHS with it.

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  • I think we are at the point of no return.
    Federations formed by CCG and LMC Chairpersons are selling shares to member Practices thus preparing them for privatization - why would the concept of shares have been introduces by LMC Chairpersons if they already did not know the wider agenda?
    Call it Babylon or Durolon - NHS in it's present form is already history. We can, of course, in that vein of nationalism, continue to brag that we have the best trains and best NHS which are envy of the world - but does it reflect reality- inside every sensible person knows - there is rot and muck which has been building up ever since the Tories started their witchHunt with greedy stooges in the forefront of NHSE/CCGs and LMCs.

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