Extra support for Bicester residents to stay well this winter

Bicester residents can now benefit from additional primary care support this winter with video group clinics.

Published: Wednesday, 3rd November 2021

Group clinics connect people with similar conditions in a supported environment with a GP or health coach, allowing longer to ask questions and explore solutions.

Bicester Healthy Groups has been developed by Cherwell District Council and Citizens Advice North Oxfordshire with funding from the Peter Sowerby Foundation. Initially developed by the NHS, the programme offers a 90-minute online group consultation for people suffering similar health concerns, including 40 minutes with a medical professional, in addition to their current healthcare appointments. The programme will start this autumn with two online question and answer sessions on Tuesday 9 and 16 November for potential patients.

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell District Council’s Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “As a former GP practice manager I recognise the value of these group sessions. They give patients plenty of time to ask clinicians a range of questions about their condition, while learning from other people who are experiencing similar concerns. This extension to the GP service aims at helping those most in need, offering a partnership approach to healthcare.”

This initiative follows the popular pilots of group clinics at Montgomery House Surgery in Bicester and elsewhere in the UK. Anyone registered with a GP in Bicester can apply to take part in the programme. People can self-refer or ask their doctor or social prescriber for more information.

Once signed up, patients will be asked to fill in a quick online form so they can be grouped into the most suitable sessions. They will then be sent the link to the video group clinic with around eight other people, where they can discuss their experiences and ask a clinician questions about their conditions.

The group sessions will link into community support including social prescribing and referrals to more traditional medical services. The patient’s GP will also be given a record of the group attendance to ensure a joined-up approach to their overall care.

Dr Ellen Fallows, GP Lead for Bicester Healthy Groups said: “After 10 years as a Bicester GP, I shared my patients’ frustration with 10-minute appointments. Supporting people in groups has been a revelation – we have more time to care, more time to connect, more time to make a real difference.”

Patients are invited to find out more about the project at two webinars: “Keep well this winter with a Video Group Clinic” on Tuesday 9 and 16 November. For more information go to www.cherwell.gov.uk/BicesterHealthyGroups