• The Royal Wolverhampton Trust will take on the running of three GP practices, covering 23,000 patients
  • ‘Vertical integration’ project will see practices get additional staff

The Royal Wolverhampton Trust will take over the running of three GP practices from April as part of a pilot scheme to integrate primary and secondary care in the West Midlands city.

The project, described as a vertical integration care model, will cover 23,000 patients. The trust said this was approximately 20 per cent of its immediately local “base” patient population.

The three practices that will become part of the trust are:

  • Alfred Squire Road Health Centre, Wolverhampton
  • Lea Road Medical Practice, Wolverhampton
  • MGS Medical Practice, Bilston

Royal Wolverampton chief executive David Loughton told HSJ that the practices will be subcontracted by the trust to provide services, with the practices’ 12 GPs transferring to the trust’s employment.

It is not yet clear exactly what type of contract the practices will be placed on from April.

The initiative has no set life span, however Mr Loughton said that the scheme’s performance will be evaluated after three, six, and then 12 months in operation.

Mr Loughton said: “It’s one of the most exciting things I have done in 30 years [in the health service]. The GPs approached us to talk about vertical integration.”

He said: “We have set criteria of what success looks like”, adding that one aim of the initiative was to increase the number of elderly patients’ palliative care being provided in the community.

While the trust will not be providing the practices with significant funding increases, Mr Loughton said: “We will be providing the practices with [additional] staff.

“In the crudest sense we are trying to shift patients from coming to hospital and using our resources [and into the communty].”

In a separate statement last month Mr Loughton said: “The GP practices and [the trust] recognise that as two separate organisations there can be delays caused by the processes that need to be in place for patient care to be organised.

“Through the practices becoming a part of Royal Wolverhampton Trust we can look more effectively at how we remove some of those processes to make the system work more efficiently and help to generally improve services.

“There is also a lot of knowledge and skills that can be shared on both sides and we can provide greater training and support opportunities for staff at the practices. We will look to share our learning across the NHS locally and nationally.

“This pilot is being driven by the GPs and senior clinicians at RWT who are working in the best interest of their patients and provide value for money for the tax payer. For many years we have known that care co-ordination between different parts of the health system is not as good as should be. By working hand in glove with local respected GPs, we think we can deliver a much better patient experience and increase value for the tax payer.”

The Royal Wolverhampton Hospital Trust provides acute and community services across Wolverhampton, the Black Country, South Staffordshire, North Worcestershire and Shropshire