GP Health Partners is a GP Federation in Surrey Downs providing a range of services on behalf of our eighteen network practices, serving a combined population of circa 175,000 patients.

The Challenge

Katherine Rush, GP Health Partners (GPHP) Operations Manager, explains that “In January 2023, owing to system pressures converging with usual winter pressures, NHS England commissioned ARI hubs to create capacity for patients acutely unwell with respiratory infections in a bid to alleviate demand on local A&E departments. GPHP, as the provider of Enhanced Access appointments for our three Primary Care Networks, has a large bank of GP staff, so we were able to mobilise quickly to create more capacity at short notice. Our largest Primary Care Network, Leatherhead PCN, has all six of their practices on a Surgery Connect System.

“Given call volumes in practice, and the existing infrastructure of the phone system at practice and federation level, we piloted trunking calls for those patients with specific respiratory symptoms to divert directly to GPHP’s booking team. Surgery Connect supported the mapping of this setup and once consent was received from all member practices, they logged in to action and implement meaning no additional work was put on practices. The ARI Hub simply became an extra list option for patients to select when phoning in if they met the criteria to use the Hub.

“Given that we use a large number of bank staff, both clinical and administrative, and some staff who work remotely, a flexible telephony system was a must.”

The Solution

Surgery Connect easily can be deployed across Hubs, PCNs and ICBs, allowing a single point of contact for patients and providing a consistent call experience. Katherine continues: “Surgery Connect is our phone system of choice – because we provide Enhanced Access appointments from a range of bases, we can literally take our phone system with us wherever we work. It also allows the senior team to oversee call volumes if working away from the office. A number of our network practices have migrated to Surgery Connect creating opportunities to work more collaboratively. This is better for patients as they have another means of getting in touch about their care for specific services we provide, but it also takes pressure away from general practice.”

Management Reports

“What we like best is how easy it is to use, how responsive Surgery Connect are in helping solve issues and the transparency of the monthly reports. It has been particularly helpful during COVID to track call volume increase so we can adapt staffing levels to cope. The ability to easily listen to recorded calls has also been particularly helpful when dealing with complaints as it is a helpful reference to be able replay messages and document conversations with accuracy.”

Simple to Use

Katherine points out that “the training guides are really helpful and whenever we have new staff to on-board, they always pick up the phone system easily. It also helps that our network practices are adopting Surgery Connect more widely, meaning lots of staff are using it elsewhere so it’s familiar to them. Whenever we need to amend the phones for bank holidays, the Surgery Connect team are on standby to help if needed.”

Value For Money

Surgery Connect is available on a per seat per month rental model, which includes hardware and software upgrades. “The Surgery Connect system is good value for money because it adapts to our workforce as required, is easy to use and adapts responsively to our evolving needs as a service provider in a changing NHS landscape. The ability to work collaboratively is really powerful and now that the concept has been tested it is something we will explore with other services in future.”

Whisper Message

Katherine has found that the “whisper is really useful when you are on multiple call groups as it allows you a moment to compose yourself for the incoming call. From a management perspective, the ability to be able to see call demand live is really helpful because you can pull in support from other team members.”

“It works! Responsive, helpful, no-nonsense staff at Surgery Connect are a real bonus. We really appreciate what you do.

“Service implementation and go-live were absolutely spot-on. Support whenever needed, but a system that is really easy to use.

“All of the features are helpful, but the reporting is powerful for capacity planning.

“Keep up the good work.”

Katherine Rush, Operations Manager, GP Health Partners,