Practice Newsletter

October 2023 - Issue 2

In this issue:

  • Welcome Message from Our Patient Participation Group ‘Chair Team’
  • Message from the Partners
  • Practice Updates & Changes
  • Proposal to Reduce Catchment Area
  • Appointments & Surgery Opening Hours
  • Meet the Team
  • What is a Physician Associate
  • Focus on Skin Conditions
  • Learning Disability Patients – Annual Health Checks

Welcome Message From: Leon Douglas, Jill Ackroyd & Renee Bernstein - Our Patient Participation Group Chair Team

Since 2012, we have had an active Patient Participation Group (PPG) at West Hampstead Medical Centre. It provides patients such as yourself with the opportunity to keep up with what is happening at your Medical Centre.

All of our patients and members of the local community are invited to participate at Open Meetings, where questions and answers from you take centre stage. Changes and practices in the NHS and the surgery are also discussed in the meetings. They are generally held twice a year. Please look out for the date of our next meeting which will be advertised shortly and we hope you will be able to join us.

The Patient Participation Group and the Partners are aiming to publish a Newsletter (such as this one) twice yearly. We meet regularly with the Partners to consider topics for the Open meetings and ways in which the Practice might better meet the needs of its patients. If you would like to put yourself, forward to join the Group, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the surgery.


Message from the Partners

West Hampstead Medical Centre would like to thank all of our patients, both longstanding and new, for the support shown to the surgery over the last few years. We know things have not been easy for anyone during this time. We sincerely hope that everyone is doing well and is adjusting to the new normal that we all face post-pandemic.

We are pleased to announce that all of our clinical appointments are available to book as face-to-face, which is the clinician's preferred option. There is still the option to book a telephone appointment with a clinician, providing the reason for the appointment does not include the need for a physical examination.

Each clinician has their own appointment list and our team will try their best to get you seen as soon as they can. Please be aware that if you wish to speak to a specific Clinician or Medical Professional, you may have to wait slightly longer for your appointment.


Practice Updates and Changes

Dr Anna Nott (General Practitioner) has recently joined the surgery and Dr Suzy Moran (General Practitioner) is coming back to join the WHMC team at the beginning of September 2023. Dr Archana Nathan, & Dr Sundeep Varma have continued to work with us as locum GPs, and Dr Afshin Kahen will also be remaining with us as a long term locum.

We have four Physician Associates in total; this is with the addition of Jerome, who joined the team in December 2022. Our Social Prescriber, Taura Riley, joined the team via AGE UK in December 2022 and is here to help and support patients.

We also have a trainee Nursing Associate Razan who will be with us on a 2-year joint University placement, which will be until May 2025. Razan will hold clinics at the surgery for patients who require blood pressure checks, foot checks, B12 vaccinations or simple dressings, so please do book in to see her if appropriate.

We have a new Mental Health Nurse Becky who will be at the surgery for 1.5 days per week. Her clinics will be on Tuesday AM & PM and Friday AM. Becky will be able to see patients who require any mental health reviews.


West Hampstead Medical Centre – Proposal to Reduce Our Catchment Area

West Hampstead Medical Centre has the largest growth of any practice in North Central London and we are now the biggest single practice in the region. We currently have over 22,600 patients, whereas around 6 years ago (2016) we were around 11,000 patients.

Some of the list size increase has arisen due to recent local developments; however, the largest local developments are yet to occur. At present, the centre has 17 clinical rooms and the current practice premises and clinical space have already been maximised to capacity.

The Centre is now looking at ways of managing our growth. It is for this reason that we are proposing to reduce our catchment area. By reducing our catchment area and slowing growth, we will be able to continue to provide the same ‘high level of care’ provided to date.

These changes will not affect any currently registered patients (or their families registered at the same address) but will affect prospective patients who live outside the proposed catchment area.

Learn more about the proposed changes


Appointments and Surgery Opening Hours

When you call or come to the surgery, are you aware that you can book appointments with our Clinical Pharmacist or one of our Physician Associates for a wide range of medical issues and minor illnesses, rather than waiting for an appointment with a GP.

If you are ever unsure which clinician it would be best for you to see, please do discuss with our Reception team who should be able to assist and advise you further.

Please note at present, that only the GP and PA appointments are bookable online, for all other appointments please book through reception.

Learn more about our opening hours


Meet the Team

  • GPs: full range of clinical problems
  • Nurses: cervical screening (smear tests), immunisations, dressings, diabetic foot checks, ear checks, asthma checks
  • Trainee Nursing Associate: blood pressure checks, foot checks, B12 vaccinations or simple dressings
  • Physician Associate: similar workload to GPs but no children under 10 years old
  • Clinical Pharmacist: annual medication reviews, diabetes care, asthma reviews, mental health medication reviews
  • Mental Health Nurse: new mental health conditions and mental health reviews of existing conditions
  • Social Prescriber: social problems, housing issues, isolation issues, exercise groups
  • Care Navigator: sign-posting patients, patient recall for long-term monitoring
  • Midwife: providing weekly community antenatal clinics
  • Community Links Volunteer: providing information and sign-posting patients (every Tuesday between 10-12)
  • Health & Wellbeing Co-Ordinator: supporting patients to improve their mental health, physical health and overall wellbeing.

We have a photo board in the Reception Foyer with Photographs of all the clinical team members.

The next time you are in, why don’t you take a look! You can also see our team online.


What is a Physician Associate?

In this edition of our newsletter, we wanted to focus on the role of a Physician Associate and what their day looks like.

Stelina - Physician Associate

Why and how did you become a Physician Associate?

I have been a Physician Associate for 1.5 years. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield and then went on to study the Physician Associate (PA) masters. My undergraduate course consisted of a Human anatomy and Forensic anatomy modules, which sparked my interest in anatomy and medicine.

I had spent a lot of my work experience within medical settings and I was drawn to the role due to the flexibility and prospects available. With it being a new and upcoming role, this allows you to make the most of the opportunities available. 

What did your training involve?

My training involved a combination of teaching covering medical conditions, physiology, and human anatomy. This teaching was followed by a year of clinical practice in a vast array of departments including cardiology, acute surgery, A&E and general practice. This was a fantastic opportunity to get hands on experience with patients and put my clinical skills into practice. Condensing so much material into two years was rather intense, but it allowed me to learn quickly with a mix of academic and practical work and improved my time management.

Tell us more about your role in the surgery?

Within the surgery, I have my own independent clinics in the morning and afternoon where I cover a range of conditions both simple and complex. I also support in the management of patients with long term conditions such as asthma. The PAs at our practice are responsible for our tele-dermatology service, which is a great way to get familiar with common dermatology conditions, and being able to identify when onwards referral or advice is required.

What does your job look like each day?

I see patients, action lab reports and documents that come through from external sites. I have a supervisor assigned for each session and I am able to seek support when required.

Favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of the job is the vast array of conditions I get to learn about during my clinics, and it is very rewarding to see how much I have grown as an individual in terms of both knowledge and confidence the more experience I’ve gotten as a PA. In addition to this I get to see patients with complex conditions regularly, allowing me to form strong relationships with them and help to play a part in improving their quality of life. Being able to see them improve through their healthcare journey or being there to support them whilst unwell is definitely the best thing about this role. 


Jerome - Physician Associate

Why and how did you become a Physician Associate?

Having done biomedical science as an undergraduate the job prospects was relatively poor, there were not many opportunities and further training was required to become an accredited biomedical scientist. Medicine was not my primary focus but when I heard about the PA profession through word of mouth it excited me.

The course suited me as it utilised a previous science degree I had, the training was relatively short compared to normal medicine route, I would be able to work in any speciality but also get the assistance from senior GP if I needed it. The job prospects were very exciting and it is such a new profession so it was in demand.

What did your training involve?

Training involved a 2-year intense course, 45-week placement in community and hospital and 45-week theory learning in class. In addition, extra learning and revision outside class/placement hours with a health improvement project in the final year.

Tell us more about your role in the surgery?

I have patient clinics every morning and afternoon. I have protected allocated time for admin, reviewing hospital letters, processing lab results, testing, and processing urine samples.

What does your job look like each day?

Everyday follows the same pattern. I work 5 days a week. We have a wide variety of cases each day. I do sometimes finish late, which can be due to having debriefs outside clinic hours, which is the limitation of the role.

Favourite part of your job?

Favourite part of the job, is being surrounded by supportive senior GPs and colleagues.

Working life in General Practice allows you to have a work life balance. Also, the best part is getting positive reviews from patients directly down to the work I do and the work that the practice does. 


Focus on Skin Conditions

It can take up to a few weeks to hear back from the Consultant so this is not suitable for those who are physically unwell or have a more urgent condition.

Do you have a skin condition that is not responding to normal treatments, or a mole/lesion that you are concerned about?

If your answer is ‘YES’, please book an appointment to see one of our Physician Associates. 

Our Physician Associates will be able to assess you further, and take a detailed history & some images which can be used for tele-dermatology.

If appropriate, they can either refer you via the Tele-dermatology pathway or manage you within our service. The Physician Associates have all undergone the required specialist training in order to take these detailed images using a dermatoscope. These images are sent with a comprehensive history to one of the Consultant Dermatologists at a local hospital. They will then respond via letter with advice regarding your treatment or alternatively, they will arrange an appointment for a further assessment at the hospital. This pathway allows for a much quicker response time than a traditional referral.

West Hampstead Medical Centre, has been ranked as the highest utilising practice for Tele-dermatology referrals. This achievement has come at significant expense both in terms of training and appointments used, but we believe passionately in trying to offer the best and swiftest advice and care that can be offered, in primary care.


Learning Disability Patients – Annual Health Checks

The NHS Long Term Plan set the ambition that at least 75% of people aged 14 or over with a Learning disability should have an annual health check. Learn more about Annual Health Checks and people with learning disabilities.

We are proud that West Hampstead Medical Centre carried out Annual Health Checks for 94.1% of our eligible patients on the learning disability register in 2022/23.

We believe that it is imperative that these annual physical health checks are done to help identify concerns earlier.

The effectiveness of health checks:

  • Identification of previously undetected health conditions in a large majority of patients that attended screened.
  • The number of previously undetected or unmanaged health needs identified ranged from 2.2 to 5.2 per patient.
  • These conditions included serious and life-threatening conditions such as cancer, heart disease and dementia, as well as minor health conditions, such as impacted ear wax.
  • Health checks are effective in promoting actions to address identified health needs such as vaccinations, blood tests,  breast and testicular screening, dental reviews and vision and hearing assessments.

We carried out the highest number of learning disability checks across all of the practices in the region in 2022/23

We exceeded the above ambition with a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment from all of the team at WHMC who continue to work tirelessly to support all of our patients with learning disabilities.

This includes our Lead GP for Learning Disabilities - Dr Shreena Suchak and our Health & Wellbeing Co-Ordinator – Sally. 

We are committed to reducing health inequalities and delivering good quality care to people with learning disabilities and autism so this will remain one of our focuses throughout 2023/24.

If you would like to give any feedback on our current services, you can do this online.

If you are happy to sign up to receive our newsletter via your email in the future, please let us know so we can add your details to the mailing list.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Published: Oct 31, 2023