• Primary care committee of Hammersmith and Fulham CCG will be asked to back series of restrictions 
  • Patient list size in Birmingham initially set to be restricted to 2,600
  • Geographical catchment area expected to be limited to patients living in Birmingham and Solihull local authority areas

Restrictions are set to be placed on Babylon GP at Hand’s new practice in Birmingham, including the size of its catchment area and the number of patients who can sign up to services.

The digital practice is due to start offering services in Birmingham over the summer– after NHS England lifted its objection to the move in February.

Today the primary care commissioning committee of Hammersmith and Fulham CCG will be asked to back a series of restrictions outlined for the new service – including initially limiting the number of registered patients to 2,600.

Further restrictions – laid out by the CCG’s clinical assurance group for GP at Hand – include limiting the catchment area to patients living within the Birmingham and Solihull local authority areas.

However, the list size and geographical area could be reassessed eight weeks after the launch of the practice, with a view to potentially lift the restrictions.

If the restrictions are backed by the committee, Babylon will also be required to establish a “robust” screening service within three months.

This follows NHS England’s earlier objections to the expansion, after concerns were raised over GP at Hand integrating with local screening and immunisation services.

A spokesman for Babylon said health bosses wanted to be sure there are no glitches in the screening system which could mean Birmingham patients are offered tests in London.

The spokesman added: “We have agreed some sensible steps with Hammersmith & Fulham CCG to ensure that Birmingham patients will have a great service, and all parties can have confidence this process will be done responsibly.”

NHS service GP at Hand is a practice based in Fulham, but is effectively run by digital primary care company Babylon Health, as well as GP partners.

It is an NHS GP practice which offers patients across the Hammersmith and Fulham CCG area, and further afield, digital primary care services, including video consultations.

Since November 2017 the patient list has grown from around 4,000 to more than 50,000 – the majority of which are based outside Hammersmith and Fulham.

The move to Birmingham means the London-based practice will be registering patients in another city for the first time.

While GP at Hand will have a physical clinic at Badger House in Birmingham, owned by primary healthcare provider Badger Group, most of the care will be delivered digitally.

The expansion of GP at Hand since its launch has caused “significant financial implications” for the CCG and has been criticised by GPs for destabilising the NHS primary care model. 

And the long-awaited evaulation of GP at Hand, published by independent researcher Ipsos Mori last month, raised questions over the model’s long-term sustainability.

According to this week’s committee papers, NHS England has “made a commitment” that the “financial impact for the CCG will be mitigated in 2019/20”.

The CCG is currently working with NHS England “on how this can be achieved”.