EQUIP: making Tower Hamlets the best place to work, and the best place to receive care.

The world of General Practice is currently under significant pressure. Across the board budgets are being cut, and resources constrained. ‘On top of this, practices face a rapidly growing population, thus in turn increasing demand for GP services. The growing population has different health needs from those of the past, forcing practices to re-evaluate the efficacy of their business models and clinical processes. As a result of these challenges, practice staff are under unprecedented levels of stress, leading to recruitment and retention challenges.

Our response to these conditions is to roll up our sleeves, and address these issues head on. The EQUIP (Enabling Quality Improvement in Practice) programme is designed to do just that, by providing practice staff with the tools to create meaningful and lasting change. This is done by allowing practices to work on what matters most to them through a tried and tested Quality Improvement methodology. By doing this, we hope to improve the lives of staff and develop a culture within practices that values bottom-up change and continuous improvement. We also hope that we will make General Practice resilient and effectively able to manage current challenges and variation, and lead change so it can deliver even better care to patients in the future’.

Our Latest Newsletter (17/03/2019)

Sarah and Osman are working remotely – and goodbye Alex!

Crowded comms today, but it’s a juicy one, so hoping you will keep (skim) reading to the end…

Remote working is all the buzz these days, and is something that has the potential to powerfully boost retention, efficiency, and joy. No, this does not mean the patient visiting your house like in the olden days. It could mean, however, you paying the patient a virtual visit. Sarah Pitkanen, whose back garden I really want, shares what her experience with remote working has been like.


Like most of us I’m always looking to improve my work-life balance and whilst I’m certainly not advocating taking work home, using EMIS remote can offer flexible home working as an alternative to sessions in the practice. An added advantage may be in offering an attractive option when trying to recruit and retain doctors within Tower Hamlets.

 Introducing this model of working into the practice has been surprisingly easy.  We started with a few ‘dry runs’ in the practice and then some further trial sessions at home before going live. We’re now several months in and have doctors regularly working from home, two of whom do regular weekly sessions, allowing them to be home to do their share of the childcare responsibilities.

I’m pretty much a technophobe but the IT aspects have been surprisingly impressive and easy to use (for the NHS!), allowing Doctor First sessions from home and the ability to complete the majority of the admin, including sending scripts via EPS. Perhaps a fraction slower (but that’s compensated for by the lack of interruptions and no travel time) and some issues with needing to ‘refresh’ the screen regularly which we haven’t resolved as yet, but otherwise it’s been plain sailing. 

From my perspective when the proverbial hits the fan and I have to step in it means no commute, triaging patients whilst looking out onto the garden – oh yes – and being able to do the school run.



With a pilot of EMIS Web mobile laptops being a resounding success, we are looking to secure funding so that all practices who would like one to utilise will be able to obtain at least one centrally – perhaps more if we can secure enough funding.

There are lots of ways these devices can be used – they come with N3 token dongles that is used to get onto the N3 network.

These laptops have a built in smartcard reader which will allow staff to connect to EMIS from anywhere with a WiFi connection.

The only cost to practices will be the annual subscription (after year 1) of the N3 token dongles (about £10 a month).

Support will be provided by the IT helpdesk.

There are various uses for these – these are just some top 5 ways that they can be utilised – please let me know of other innovative ways you have found them helpful and useful.

  1. Business continuity – this was the initial business case to get these laptops as a backup for when your desktop PCs or local network goes down – with a WiFi connection you can be up and running with the mobile device until your system comes back up.
  2. Hotdesking – where space is limited, work can be carried out in other areas of the practice without having to wait for a room with a PC with EMIS on to become free.
  3. Remote Access – If you are doing a set of visits and don’t want to be printing out summary sheets to take with you or you don’t want to be writing up notes back at the practice you can take these remotely on visits – even do EPS scripts when you are with a patient at home (you can tether to your mobile WiFi)
  4. Home Working  – this is massively increasing and is the main demand currently to allow work to be completed at home rather than staying late at the practice or to clear documents / results from home rather than sitting at a practice if you so wish.
  5. Telephone Triage – practices are now helping out their colleagues from home when they are unable to come in to the practice and helping with telephone triage providing an extra pair of hands (or ears) when required at short notice.


Dear Tower Hamlets,

I have to announce that at the end of this month, I will be leaving Tower Hamlets and the wonderful world of EQUIP. You may be asking yourself ‘but where are you going?’ Your reaction is best illustrated in the below photograph of Percy and I.

I am not leaving London so you can all take a deep breath. I will be moving into pharmaceutical procurement for an American company based in central London so I won’t be moving far. Every once in a while I am sure you will still catch me (or a resemblance of me) in the corner of your eye devouring a Sainsbury’s croissant (better than Pastry Parlour Virginia J) so I will still be around!

Before I leave, I would just like to say that I have learned so much throughout my time here, and will greatly miss working with such passionate and kind people. It has been truly inspirational. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to work with each and every one of you, but I have to catch my proverbial flight, so I’ll love you and leave you. Before I do however, I have dug through my Spotify account and found the most listened to songs of my tenure in this wonderful borough. Give them a listen…..they might surprise you!

(Note from Virginia: here, Alex had included two links to his YouTube playlists – however, said links meant that this email landed in everyone’s junk folder yesterday. So, if you want the playlists, look in your trash. ‘Nuff said.)

Now for the main event! I am planning to have leaving drinks at Sun Tavern on Tuesday the 26th of March from 5 pm onwards. If you can spare a moment, come along! The address is 441 Bethnal Green Road.

I look forward to seeing you all there.

Stay classy Tower Hamlets,