Building for better care

How Frome Medical Centre's unique premises project helped cut hospital admissions

Frome Medical Centre, Somerset

Frome Medical Centre, Somerset

In 2000, two GPs from Frome Medical Practice in Somerset embarked on a 12-year project that was to change the way patients in the town experienced NHS primary care forever. 

"We recognised the benefit of a health campus, where a lot of the facilities were in the same area."

Frome Medical Centre, Somerset

Frome Medical Centre, Somerset

Dr Tina Merry and Dr Mark Vose began the long process of creating the primary care building the practice had always wanted. 

It would be a centre with space to bring together two GP practices, more than 150 healthcare professionals, pharmacy, minor operations and a huge range of other health and community services under one roof - serving more than 30,000 patients and sitting next to the new community hospital.

They opted to run the project themselves, with the GPs coming together to borrow more than £10m to fund the build, working with designers, navigating the planning process and engaging with patients and the wider community. 

And one of the key design principles? 

"That general feeling of being in a light, airy, pleasant building with plenty of room for you - that has a huge benefit to patients."

Light, airy corridors

Light, airy corridors

The building had its official opening on 4th January, 2013

Friendly waiting spaces

Friendly waiting spaces

The centre's location, right next to the community hospital, was key to what they've been able to achieve since then. 

With the physical building in place to allow different staff teams and community groups to work more closely together, they began a unique approach to reducing hospital admissions for elderly and more vulnerable patients.

Space to innovate

Space to innovate

Using the building to help build their huge network

Using the building to help build their huge network

Involving everyone from administrators to clinicians to district nursing, social care, community support services and local charities, they identified patients who could, with the right help and support, stay at home rather than ending up in hospital.

By making time for the many different professionals, people and teams to be part of multidisciplinary meetings and planning work - looking in the round at the individual things that would help each individual patient to stay away from hospital, from prescriptions to occupational therapy, walking groups or a regular cuppa and a chat - they achieved a significant fall in emergency admissions to hospital. Their innovation is such that it's hit the national headlines and won an award from the Prime Minister.     

Source: Dr Helen Kingston, Frome Medical Practice 2018

Source: Dr Helen Kingston, Frome Medical Practice 2018

Dr Helen Kingston from the practice says: "The joint approach of integration of services, a community development focus, systematic identification of those patients at risk though a whole team approach focusing on this and proactive support has enabled us to reduce emergency admissions by 21%. For every £1 spent on our Frome Model of Enhanced Primary Care, the NHS has saved £6. 

"The facilities of the Health Park here at Frome have been key in bringing us together to enable this."

Bricks and mortar enabling change