The Royal Wolverhampton Trust is set to partner with two more GP practices, increasing the number involved in its vertical integration programme to five.

The trust, which runs three GP practices across five sites, is in advanced talks with a two more practices, which it hopes will join the programme in the next two months, HSJ understands.

Royal Wolverhampton’s vertical integration programme was launched in March and currently covers a population of 23,000. If the two practices come on board this would bring the trust’s primary care coverage to between 30,000 and 50,000 patients.

Board papers published by Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group on 4 October suggested two practices had some interest in joining the programme, but HSJ understands the trust is now in advanced talks with both practices and more have shown interest.

Sultan Mahmud, director for integration at Royal Wolverhampton Trust, said: “We’ve been able to increase access to general practice [through the vertical integration programme] by 10 per cent, begin social prescribing and join the pathway dots.

“The clinical working together is the important bit. This could really grow and be something special but even if it doesn’t there is lots of learning that can be applied and that’s the spirit in what we’re trying to do.

Mr Mahmud also said the trust was “actively pursuing an accountable care organisation” model with local partners.

He added: “The fact that the programme is working so well and the GPs are working really well with the hospital, the system understands this. To make the changes we need to make in the health service, which are seismic in scale, any forced collaboration isn’t going to do it but things like this where people are coming together through their own volition for the benefit of patient care absolutely stands us in good stead to do something quite different and move into an ACO.”

Wolverhampton CCG is also running another model of scaled up primary care through the Primary Care Home project run by a 26-practice GP federation called Wolverhampton Total Healthcare.