• CCG lifts all restrictions on the type of patients able to register with GP at Hand after NHS England review
  • The service was previously restricted from registering certain patient groups, such as those with complex mental health needs 
  • The national commissioner has also said GP at Hand’s technology, provided by Babylon Healthcare, meets NHS safety standards

All safety restrictions on the type of patients GP at Hand can deliver care to have been lifted following a review by NHS England.

The list of conditions previously deemed unsafe for the GP at Hand service have been removed by Hammersmith and Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group, it is understood.

It is in response to a clinical review which has been carried out by NHS England, but not yet been published.

However, CCG committee papers published today say patients will still be advised that sometimes it may not be appropriate to register with a practice that is not near their home.

The papers also reveal NHS England has deemed that all technology used by GP at Hand, which is provided by Babylon Healthcare, meets NHS safety standards.

GP at Hand is a service offered by a partnership between a Fulham based practice – formerly called Dr S Jefferies and Partners – and Babylon Healthcare.

The practice subcontracts Babylon to provide video consultations and other digital services, but the company is also represented within GP at Hand, with Babylon medical director Mobasher Butt as a partner, and has a commercial relationship with the practice, the details of which have not been made public.

According to Hammersmith and Fulham CCG’s primary care committee papers, published today, the GP practice has now been renamed “Babylon GP at Hand”.

In July the CCG blocked a move to expand the service into Birmingham, due to concerns about IT and data issues relating to national screening programmes. This decision has since been backed up by the London regional director for NHS England, and the issue is being examined further, according to other CCG papers published this week.

Data published by Hammersmith and Fulham says around 2,500 patients per month have registered with the service over the last six months, mainly from other London boroughs.

Groups of patients who were previously unable to register with GP at Hand included:

  • Those with complex physical and or mental health conditions;
  • people living with dementia;
  • older people with conditions related to frailty;
  • people with learning difficulties;
  • women who are or may be pregnant;
  • those requiring end of life care

All these patients can now use the service if they wish to.

Ipsos Mori is currently conducting an independent evaluation of GP at Hand, and is due to publish an interim report in December.

A spokesman for Babylon GP at Hand said: “Safety is the number one priority and Babylon GP at Hand works closely with NHS commissioners to ensure this. We are delighted that commissioners are assured our service and technology meets the high standards required in the NHS.

“We are very pleased that there is no longer any ambiguity that Babylon GP at Hand is a service for all who choose it. Babylon GP at Hand is available to everyone who lives or works within 40 minutes of one our clinics. It is a full NHS GP practice, with no restrictions on which groups of patients can register.”

An NHS England London spokesman said: “NHS England London and the local CCG will continue to monitor this GP practice to ensure that all patients accessing the service are being appropriately managed.”