Category Archive News


Howbeck Supports Birmingham & Solihull as they go live with Physician Associate Internship Programme

Howbeck Healthcare’s Project Management team recently supported the Birmingham & Solihull Physician Associate internship programme. The programme went live on 1st June 2020, delivered through the Birmingham and Solihull Training Hub.

Six Physician Associates (PAs) were successfully recruited and appointed to work across both primary and secondary to offer the best patient care across our local area. The recruitment campaign has been extremely successful with the recruitment campaign attracting a significant proportion of the newly qualified PA workforce, which demonstrates the attractiveness of the joint roles and more so the high quality training and support associated with the internship.  In addition, there were a total number of 14 GP practices who expressed an interest for the programme, which ensures that all appointable PAs have been successfully aligned.

The programme, jointly supported by HEE and NHSE, and Howbeck Healthcares Project Management team will support GP practices to host a PA who are newly qualified/within 1st year post qualification for a 12 month internship.  The programme is run jointly with Birmingham Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and Forward Thinking Birmingham (Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust) along with 5 GP practices.

The six Physician Associates will be working 2.5 days a week in primary care; 2 days in Mental Health in secondary care and 0.5 day for formal teaching provided by Birmingham and Solihull’s dedicated teaching team of a Senior Clinical Tutor and Senior Physician Associate. 

As they are one of only a few Physician Associate Internships to offer this structured programme of work, Birmingham and Solihull are being closely observed from various organisations across the country. For further information please contact Lucy Minshull –


Dr Paul trials GP@Home helping to reduce the Risks of Covid-19 using the Latest Phone and Video Tech

GPs are using the latest digital phone and video technology (GP@Home) from their own homes, helping them address remotely the huge care demands created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Neil Paul, has been trialling GP@Home, and has been ‘really impressed’ with how it can help doctors work more safely in light of the pandemic, and allow home workers to answer the phone as if they were sat in the surgery. “It solves the ‘I don’t want to use my own phone to make hundreds of calls to patients’ problem, which is affecting thousands of practices across the country,” he said. Read more here


Howbeck supports Federation to pilot specialist webchat platform

Howbeck Healthcare has recently supported one of its Federations, South Cheshire and Vale Royal GP Alliance, to pilot a specialist webchat platform which can be used between patients, clinicians and practices to ease the volume of work at the front desk.

Two practices within South Cheshire and Vale Royal GP Alliance, Merepark Medical Centre and Ashfields Primary Care Centre, decided that they needed an alternative way for patients to communicate with them to ease pressure on the front desk. They needed a more efficient way to book and manage appointments, and with the help of Refero’s technology a webchat box has been implemented on both practice websites allowing a communication channel between patient and practice.

Read more about it

Howbeck Healthcare is contracted to provide management support to a number of Federations and PCNs etc – Find out more


Howbeck pleased to be working with Vital Signs Solutions

Howbeck Healthcare is pleased to be working with Vital Signs Solutions in its drive to make blood testing simple, convenient and immediate for everyone.

Dr Neil Paul will be acting in a Clinical Advisory capacity to support Vital Signs with this development with a focus on Primary Care.


NHS Cheshire CCG appoint Howbeck Healthcare to provide DPO service

We are pleased to announce that NHS Cheshire CCG have appointed Howbeck Healthcare to provide a dedicated DPO Service to its GP Practices across Cheshire. 

Our GDPR Team led by our accredited GDPR Practitioner and Data Protection Officer, Tara Moylan have previously provided this service as part of our management support to all practices within the South Cheshire and Vale Royal GP Alliance.  Following positive feedback we are extremely proud to now provide this service across the whole Cheshire patch.


New useful product videos available to GP Practice staff during Covid-19 crisis

Dr Neil Paul has created a set of videos which includes reviews, demos and tips for products that he believes will be particularly helpful during the current Covid-19 crisis).

These videos are situated on our HowbeckHow2 website and are currently open to anyone during the COVID-19 crisis, just head over to the bundles page.


Launch of HowbeckHow2

In response to the Covid-19 crisis we have launched our Howbeck How2 online video resource to all GP Practices for free for the next 6 months in an effort to support our clinicians and practices during the current pandemic.  Our current content relating to understanding EMIS, EMIS Web and Docman 10 is particularly useful for practices with many staff now working from home, and to support recently retired and former front line staff returning to practice to enable them to quickly get up to speed on the various primary care systems.  As this pandemic continues and practices are looking to work together more and more, our bundles on remote consultations will be a helpful resource to support you in this.

This site was originally being developed for release in the Autumn to support Practices and Primary Care Networks in optimising the use of IT systems in General Practice, particularly given the Additional Roles Requirement of the PCN DES.

The content on this site has been produced by our experienced team of clinicians and trained staff in primary care systems, however if you have a video that you would be willing to share on this site for free to support front line staff during this time, please get in touch.

Please share and let all your colleagues know that this resource is available to them.

You can visit our site here


Freedom to Speak Up Guardian Service

Our Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) Guardian was scheduled to present at the National Guardian’s Office Regional Conference today. Due to the Covid crisis, it took place via webinar, as it was felt important that GP Practice staff know they are fully supported when it comes to reporting concerns about patient care and the safety of patients and colleagues.

Following the introduction of the Guardian roles in Primary Care in 2017, it struck us that General Practice is unique in how the role can be provided. As small organisations it is not practical for practices to have an individual person, independent of management to represent staff. What is required is a cost effective service deployed with an understanding of the uniqueness and sensitivities of Primary Care.

Howbeck is now delivering a FTSU service to over 100 of our clients inc GP Practices, PCNs and Feds. We support them to embed the appropriate policies and promote the service to make it visible to staff, which is critical for success.

*We are now offering this service to all*

Costs are based on list size with group discounts available for PCNs and Federations

More info on:

Follow us on Facebook PrimaryCare
Twitter @FTSUPrimaryCare


Howbeck Healthcare Facilitates Board Development Day for West Lancashire GP Federation

Howbeck Healthcare was recently asked to facilitate a Board Development Day for West Lancashire GP Federation.  Mike Pyrah, Director of Howbeck Healthcare led this session with the aim of creating the right environment to enable the participants to reflect upon, and to provide constructive challenge, in order to determine the future direction for West Lancashire GP Federation.  The desired outcomes were:

  • To agree the Organisation Purpose and Strategic Direction for West Lancashire GP Federation,
  • To agree the actions to take in order to ‘make it happen’, with a particular focus on Organisational Effectiveness and Governance.

Testimonial from Helen Holmes-Fogg, Chief Executive of West Lancashire GP Federation

‘Mike provided insightful and considered facilitation of our Board Development Day. He was a positive disruptor with some words of wisdom. He challenged and focused the mind in an agile session.’ 


Update to the GP Contract Agreement 2020/2021 – 2023/2024

There are a lot of useful summaries of the GP Contract agreement already available, therefore rather than focus on what is included in the contract I wanted to concentrate on the likely impact on Practices, PCNs and GP Federations (or Networks of Networks).

To start with, it is worth considering what the Contract Agreement actually is:

• The annual amendment to the GMS Contract
• The year two plan PCN DES Specification
• The delivery plan for the NHS Long-term Plan

Looking at the three elements my observation is:

GMS Contract – For practices there are some significant new obligations (such as sharing their activity and workforce data) and some new service requirements. Interestingly on their own the incentives may not be sufficient to make the changes and requirements acceptable.

PCN DES – The contract is much more attractive to PCNs and removes lots of the significant barriers in the last version, most of the financial benefits are for the PCNs and some of these are required to be reinvested in services rather than in practices.

The NHS Plan – Some of the requirements have been set out as aspirations in previous documents (online access) others are new (50 million more appointments), and there is a mix of national and local actions (training more GPs etc).

Putting the three elements together my main observation is that there are some significant new obligations for practices whilst most of the financial benefits are for the PCNs, and some of these are required to be re-invested in services rather than into practices.

Download the full Update to the new Contract Agreement – February 2020.