HRH The Duchess of Cornwall visits Frome Medical Practice

The Duchess of Cornwall visited Frome Medical Practice where she saw first-hand the work of Frome community through groups and volunteers joining together to support one another. Through this approach, the whole town has grown in capability to respond with humanity to friends, neighbours and fellow residents and make the town a better place for all. This approach is known as Compassionate Frome: the Frome model of enhanced primary care.

During the visit, Her Royal Highness met a variety of groups who provide services to the community, including the Health Connectors and volunteer Community Connectors, members of The Hub, which was set up by the Practice to identify patients who might benefit from this approach, as well as other local support groups and services. She also met with members of the Talking Café and chatted with them over a cup of coffee.

Frome Medical Practice Senior GP Partner Dr Helen Kingston, set up the project with Jenny Hartnoll, Service Lead for Health Connections Mendip (HCM) in 2013.

Dr Kingston said: “We recognised that wellbeing is more than simply the absence of disease. Loneliness and isolation can exacerbate and lead to health problems. Relationships matter to us all. We set up Compassionate Frome to connect people to support networks, groups and services throughout Mendip. We mapped out the services on offer in Mendip and recruited a team of Health Connectors to signpost people to services across the area from hearing loss support, exercise classes and befriending services.

“Gaps in services were identified and the Health Connections team worked with our community to address these unmet needs. They were able to set up talking cafes and support groups for people with specific health issues such as dementia, COPD and Macular Degeneration. As a result of this focus on wellbeing and building capability and networks of support we have observed the benefits this brings to health with a reduction in emergency hospital admissions.”

Others who met Her Royal Highness were some of the Couch to 5k runners who were preparing to embark on their run. This running course targets people who have mild anxiety or depression and aims to combine mental health as well as the physical benefits that come with exercising, and some health walkers who will just be returning from a walk, which they do to help combat isolation and have the chance to make friends.

There was special recognition for Mr Gerald Franks who set up the Frome and District Day Centre lunch club in 2000. The club offers a hot meal and friendship to older people who are unable to cook and take care of themselves. The Duchess of Cornwall presented him with an award in recognition of his service to the community

Frome Medical Practice is one of Somerset’s leading GP practices providing primary care for around 29,000 people. It’s one of Somerset’s leading GP practices and has also been awarded ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in its last inspection. It was awarded the Somerset CCG ‘Practice of the year’ award for 2017.

The Compassionate Frome team have trained 912 volunteer Community Connectors who signpost friends, family, colleagues and neighbours to find support in their own communities.

For more information visit Health Connections Mendip

For media enquiries please contact

News Coverage

Click the links below to view some of the news coverage of the event:

The Times
The Daily Mail
Hello Magazine
Somerset Live
Express and Star
Shropshire Star

Permalink »

Frome model of Enhanced Primary Care

Frome Care Coordination

The Town Trying to Cure Loneliness (BBC World Hacks, BBC World Service)

Loneliness and isolation can trigger a host of other problems, particularly for our health. But a town in Somerset, in the United Kingdom, appears to have taken a big step towards alleviating the problem. A team in Frome has implemented a handful of simple ideas – getting people to talk about the problems they face and finding ways for them to re-engage with family, friends or social clubs – and they believe it is having a dramatic effect. The cost of emergency admissions in Frome has fallen steeply, while it rises across most of the UK. We visit the town to meet the ‘connectors’ driving the project, and the people they have helped.

Watch the film from the BBC World Service here:

The town that’s found a potent cure for illness – Community (The Guardian, February 21st 2018)

Frome in Somerset has seen a dramatic fall in emergency hospital admissions since it began a collective project to combat isolation.
There are lessons for the rest of the country

Read the article from the Guardian here:

Frome leads the way in easing the NHS crisis (Frome Times, February 27th 2018

A PROJECT at Frome Medical Practice has been hailed in the national press as a blueprint for helping the NHS crisis, after figures revealed
that it has reduced the number of emergency hospital admissions in the area.

Read the article from the Frome Times here:

Somerset town could hold the key to reducing demand on hospital (ITV News, February 26th 2018)

A pioneering project in Frome, Somerset is using community groups and volunteers to break the debilitating
cycle of loneliness and isolation. They found as people became more socially connected, emergency
admissions to hospital also fell … dramatically.

Watch the piece from ITV News here: ITV News

Somerset town could hold the key to reducing demand on hospital (ITV News Westcountry, February 26 2018)

Watch the piece from ITV News Westcountry here: ITV News Westcountry

Somerset GPs show how new model of community support could reduce demand on hospital A&E (BBC Radio Somerset, February 26 2018)

A project run by a GP Practice in Frome says it is helping to ease the pressure on A&E Departments.
Frome Medical Practice co-ordinates everything a patient might need to get better, like delivering medicine to someone’s home
or setting up a new group to get people active.

Listen to patients at a Frome Foot Clinic: BBC Radio Somerset

Charities risk becoming irrelevant, warns new report (The Guardian, November 22 2018)

Voluntary sector must stop chasing government contracts and go back to fighting for communities in need

Health Connections Mendip (HCM) never set out to be a model for anything. However, this deceptively simple project in the small Somerset town of Frome is being talked about, not just as a blueprint for community revitalisation, but as a road to renewal for a UK charity sector struggling to maintain its relevance and public confidence in an age of great social upheaval and public distrust.

Read the article from the Guardian here:

Permalink »

Newsletter – Spring 2018

To view our latest newsletter click here

To sign up to receive future newsletters click here

Late Spring Newsletter: 2018

Welcome to our latest Newsletter, keeping you up to date with what is happening at your GP practice. As you may have read in the local press, over the past 6 months, we have been carrying out a thorough review of how our new appointments system Patient Connect has been doing. It is therefore right that much of this Late Spring Newsletter is dedicated to telling you what improvements we have been making to the system. In addition, there is also news on The Green Impact Award and the Digital Diabetes Prevention Programme. As always, enjoy the read!

Patient Connect: Listening To You

It has now been more than 6 months since we introduced our new GP appointments system, Patient Connect. Karen Creffield is our Practice Manager and she explains that since November last year both her colleagues and herself have been listening carefully to patient feedback on the new appointments system.

Karen Creffield

Karen Creffield

‘It has been made fairly clear from many patients that they felt that they really benefitted from same day access,’ explains Karen. ‘No longer having to wait for up to 4 weeks for routine care has gone down extremely well with patients. Patient Connect has been all about providing access to the right medical care, at the right time and with the right health professional. However, for some of our patients the new appointments system was not working for them and we therefore needed to resolve these issues. This is exactly what we have been doing during the last 6 months review period.’
With the current review period concluded, we have recently announced a series of changes aimed at improving the delivery of Patient Connect. The changes announced include the following:
Increasing the number of phone lines to help improve access into the system.

The introduction of a new system that logs all patient interactions with Patient Connect. If you not managed to get an appointment for a routine or non-urgent condition after a few attempts, the Care Navigator team at the practice will be made aware of this and ensure that extra help is given to you.

The practice is currently actively recruiting for additional GPs and Nurse Practitioners to help deliver the best service possible. An Open Day for prospective new GPs at the practice is being held on Wednesday 30th May.

The Care Navigators and Health Professionals at the practice are all receiving on-going training to help improve the patient experience.

The practice is currently reviewing its automated phone messages and the website now provides clear information on what is on offer to patients.

We will regularly offer Top Tips on how to get the best from the system, with information being made available in the local press, on social media and of course in this our regular newsletter as well as the website.

The number of evening appointments between 6.30-8pm has been increased. This will mean that people who find it difficult to use the appointments service during normal working hours of the day can now be offered face to face pre-bookable appointments on the same day but during the evening. Patients should speak to the Care Navigators to book one of these evening appointments (which are subject to availability).

During the review period of the past 6 months, it also became clear to Karen and her colleagues that as much information as possible should be made available to patients.
‘We have therefore collated all the most Frequently Asked Questions that our patients have put to us on how Patient Connect can work best for them,’ adds Karen. ‘I think that these will really be able to help!’

Question: What do I do if I am struggling to call the practice in the morning to arrange a telephone consultation?
Answer: You can pre book a telephone consultation on the day online and book a call back at a time to suit you. You will need to register first from our website This solution really helps our patients who may have limited time in the work place to make a call.

Question: How can I make an appointment with my preferred GP?
Answer: Go to our website and you will be able to see which doctor is working up to 3 weeks in advance. For routine consultations you can call or book a call back online on a day you know your preferred GP is working. We also recommend checking the website on the evening or morning before your call for any amendments to our schedules due to illness. We will always offer you a consultation with your preferred GP if available.

Question: What if I can only make an evening appointment?
Answer: These appointments are made available 2 weeks in advance. We are unable to offer these through online booking at the current time.

Question: I have spent over an hour on the phone trying to get an appointment. What should I do?
Answer: Our average wait times for a call to be answered are around 5-7 minutes. On a busy day you may experience wait times up to 20 minutes. Please only wait on the phone when you have heard the words ‘Welcome to Frome Medical Practice- Patient Connect Appointments Line’. The longer wait times could be because patients have not been connected into the Frome Medical Practice system by their call providers due to call volume.

Question: What happens if I would like to know what position I am in the queue when making a call?
Answer: We are looking to reintroduce our call queuing information, as many patients have said you prefer this, We have also increased the number of Call Navigators taking the calls. We found many people were saying they had put the phone down when they heard they might be 20 or higher in the queue. We understand this can put people off waiting but please try and stay on the line as calls move quickly through the queue.

Question: I am unsure what I can and can’t book ahead for?
Answer: All our appointments with our Practice Nurses and Health Care Assistants can be booked in advance. Some GP appointments can be pre booked for evening clinics. You can also pre book HGV medicals, mother and baby checks and other routine areas. We recommend you book at least 4 weeks in ahead for these. We also recommend if you are calling to book one of these appointments you may want to call later in the day when the phone lines are less busy. We will be updating our website to make it easier for you to see which health conditions can be seen by which of our health professionals. Please visit our website for more details.

Question: What can I see my pharmacist for?
Answer: We are fortunate to have the St Aldhelm’s Pharmacy in the Medical Centre building. Over the counter remedies can be purchased there. Our pharmacist and St Aldhelm’s are now able to directly prescribe treatment for impetigo, conjunctivitis (age 1 and above) and for urinary tract infections in women. There will be some exceptions when they recommend you need to see your GP.

Question: Why has my Doctor or another health professional booked me to see a nurse practitioner?
Answer: We are very fortunate at Frome Medical Practice to have Nurse Practitioners who are highly skilled in helping patients with many conditions. Our website will explain the treatment they provide.

Question: If I have run out of phone credit or don’t have a phone what should I do?
Answer: You can book your appointment for a call back in person. We have phones available in the practice that patients can use to receive a call back. If you speak to a Care Navigator in person they can also advise you.

Question: What happens if I have special needs which make it difficult to either make a booking or receive a call back on the telephone?
Answer: Please speak to our Care Navigators and they can then help and advise you.

Whilst this first formal 6 month review has now been completed, Karen is keen to emphasise that as Patient Connect continues to develop, so the practice will continue to review how the appointments system performs in the future.

‘We have worked hard with all of our patients to make sure that Patient Connect works,’ says Karen. ‘At a time when nationally it is very rare to be able to witness any continuity of care, Patient Connect now makes it a great deal easier for our patients to see the same doctor. I also fully understand that there are some situations which can be frustrating, particularly when you (or your child) may be unwell. However, everyone at the practice here will always do everything that we can to offer you the patient the best care possible. The partners as well as myself are all really proud of our dedicated, caring and professional team here at the Frome Medical Practice, as we all strive to provide the best service within the resources available on the day.’

Green Impact Award

As part of our commitment to improving sustainability, we have signed up to the primary care Green Impact Award and will be focussing on some of our current good practice and in particular where we think we can improve. The award has been developed by the University of Bristol, the Royal College and General Practitioners (RCGP), Health Education England (HEE) South West and the National Union of Students (NUS).

Refill Frome

The toolkit was designed by GPs and sustainability professionals, specifically to help GP surgeries improve their sustainability and environmental impact.

For more information visit –

As part of the Award we have been looking at some of our purchasing choices. Some of the small changes we have made have been to switch to Fair Trade Tea and Coffee and to purchasing more environmentally friendly paper.

We are promoting the GSK inhale recycling scheme and encouraging patients to recycle these at the Beckington Practice or Boots. We are also hoping St Aldhelm’s Pharmacy will soon have a facility available.

As a practice we have also joined up to the Refill Frome Campaign. The Practice has introduced our own new Refill Bottle Station at the practice.

The growing national Refill scheme encourages making free and safe drinking water available to all. We have been working closely with local resident Josie Shilabeer of the Refill Frome Campaign. Josie was inspired to make a difference in her community after learning more about the environmental impact of plastic.
As you may well have read in the local press, the first person to use the new refill bottle station at the GP practice was Mayor Sheila Gore.

‘I am delighted to have been the first to use the new water installation at the practice,’ says Sheila. ‘This scheme fits perfectly with our “say no to plastic” campaign and efforts to reduce single cup use. It also goes hand in hand with encouraging a healthy lifestyle through drinking more water on a regular basis. It is great to see so many places in Frome embracing this initiative.’

The introduction of the water station was made possible due to the generous fundraising efforts of two of our own practice staff, Ali and Jazz Grey. Additionally, the money raised by Ali and Jazz also helped ensure that everyone at the practice was provided with their own metal water bottle made by leading manufacturers onegreenbottle.

‘Providing water to our patients and visitors is really important and being able to do so in a way which encourages us all to make some small changes that make a big difference has made supporting this scheme so worthwhile,’ explains Ali.

The practice are keen to help promote the scheme throughout the town. They are giving away 5 stainless steel drinking bottles made by onegreenbottle to local residents. To take part all you need to do is follow Refill Frome on facebook and post a picture of yourself using one of the 10 refill stations already signed up in Frome, or alternatively tweet a picture on @FromeMedPractic. The winners will be drawn at the end of May by Josie from Refill Frome.

We are also keen to learn of your own views on what we are doing as a practice with Green Impact. If you have a few minutes to complete this survey we would be very grateful!

And Finally…

Don’t forget that you can always keep up with all the latest news and developments at your practice on Twitter @FromeMedPractic

Permalink »