New data shows rise in GP appointments

Almost 70,000 more GP appointments were held in January this year than in December, new data for the Black Country has revealed.

The latest figures for GP access show that 609,685 appointments took place in January, up from 541,146 in December 2022.
Of these, 46% took place on the same day and 73% of appointments were face to face, which is up from 54% compared to January 2021.
The vital role of the wider teams working alongside GPs was also clear in the statistics, as 47% of all appointments were with other trained health professionals such as practice nurses, advanced nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
Dr Salma Reehana, a local GP in the Black Country, said: “Like much of the NHS, demand for GP services continues to increase, and our teams are working harder than ever to ensure patients get the care they need.
“We are proud of our primary care colleagues who have embraced technology and new ways of working, enabling us to provide more primary care appointments in our system than ever before, despite a fall in the number of GPs.
“There isn’t one type of appointment that suits all patients and GPs in the Black Country have adapted to provide patients with alternative methods of accessing services via telephone and online consultations, whilst continuing to offer face-to-face appointments when clinically appropriate.
“Many GP practices now have a range of health professionals and trained clinicians available who can also diagnose and treat health conditions. This ensures patients see the right person at the right time more quickly and allows GPs to spend more time with patients with the greatest needs.
“Additional GP appointments are now also available on evenings and weekends, giving patients more choice and flexibility for routine, bookable appointments to fit in with their busy schedules and family commitments.
“It’s important that people know their GP is open and here for them, so I would encourage. anyone who needs help to come forward. However, please help us help you by choosing the correct service for you. For any minor illnesses, your local pharmacist should be your first port of call. Pharmacists are trained medical professionals and can help recognise and treat many common illnesses. They can give advice and, where appropriate, recommend over-the-counter medicines that could help clear up the problem.”
The new statistics have also revealed that 6% of appointments were DNAs, which is where a patient fails to attend an appointment but does not cancel so it can be rebooked by the practice. In many practices appointments can be cancelled by text or online, so there’s no need to phone.
Dr Reehana added: “More than 36,000 appointment slots were missed in January across the Black Country. These slots are incredibly precious, especially as demand for appointments remains high, so we would encourage those who no longer need an appointment to make every effort to cancel in advance so somebody else can have the slot.”
For more information on the different roles available at GP practices and the enhanced access arrangements, click here.

NHS Board Meeting to Highlight Successful Valentine's Day Initiative

Halesowen Cultural Centre will host Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust’s next Board Meeting on Tuesday 7th March 2023 at 9:30 am. Members of the public are invited to attend and hear about the latest healthcare developments and initiatives.

At the meeting, attendees will hear about an exciting new initiative, led by pharmacists, 4th-year pharmacy students, and sexual health professionals. Earlier this year, on Valentine's Day, the team set up a booth at the Merry Hill Centre to promote healthy hearts and sexual health.

This initiative is just one example of the innovative ways in which healthcare professionals are working to improve health and well-being in Dudley. The Board Meeting is an excellent opportunity for the public to learn more about the latest developments and ask questions of their healthcare providers.

Sarah Baig, Pharmacy Professional Development and Governance Lead at Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust said:

"We are thrilled to share the success of this Valentine's Day initiative at the Board Meeting and with the public"

"It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our healthcare professionals and their commitment to improving the health of our community and reducing health inequalities."

“It is also a great example of collaborative cross-organisational working, we partnered with the University of Birmingham school of pharmacy, the local pharmaceutical committee and Brook Sexual Health charity to deliver this much-needed initiative to the people of Dudley.”

Harry Turner, Chairman of DIHC, said:

“Our Board meetings are a great way to find out what is happening locally in health and care and to see how decisions are made.

“We encourage people to come along and join us and see what progress has been made over the last month. We welcome questions from the public and the Board is always keen to hear perspectives from local people.

“If you have a question, please submit them in advance of the meeting and we can respond.”

The meeting will include updates from the Trust’s Board Members and an opportunity for attendees to ask questions of the board. All members of the public are welcome to attend.

Members of the public who would like to attend the meeting or send a question in advance should email

For more information, visit the DIHC website

Download the NHS app to access healthcare

People in the Black Country who have a smartphone or tablet are being reminded to join the millions nationwide who have downloaded the NHS app.

At home or on the move, the NHS app provides a simple and secure way for people to access a range of NHS services on their smartphone or tablet.
Currently, 41 percent of people in the Black Country have downloaded the app, compared to the national average of 51 percent.
The app can be used for ordering repeat prescriptions, accessing your records, checking symptoms, and getting health advice – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It also allows users to check their COVID-19 vaccine record, including how many doses they have had, and which jab they received.
People will be asked to create an NHS login if they do not have one already and must be registered with a GP to use it.
Dr Ananta Dave, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “The NHS app is a great way to get valuable information about your health at the click of a button.
“It is a valuable tool for people to manage their health at home, whether that’s by ordering repeat prescriptions, securely checking GP medical records or using the handy symptom checker and finding out what to do if you need urgent help.
“So, if you haven’t already, I would absolutely encourage anyone with a smartphone or tablet to download the app today.
“If you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, you can use the NHS login to access the same services through a web browser on a computer or laptop.
“We also understand that not everyone will be able to use the NHS app, so I’d like to remind“We also understand that not everyone will be able to use the NHS app, so I’d like to remindpeople that they can still access healthcare by contacting their GP as normal or by calling 111for urgent help.”
The app is free to download and is available on the App Store or Google Play. The app willnever ask for money or financial details to access it. People must be registered with a GPpractice in England and aged 13 or over to use the NHS app.
For further information please visit the NHS website here.

New service to treat urine infections now offered in pharmacies

A number of pharmacies across the Black Country now offer patients easy access to advice and treatments for urinary tract infections (UTIs).

A three-month pilot, aimed at women aged 16-64, has been launched to enable local community pharmacists to treat patients with UTIs without the need for a GP appointment or prescription.

UTIs are one of the most common bacterial infections seen in female patients, with over 40 percent of women likely to suffer from one in their lifetime. Symptoms include:

  • Burning or stinging sensation when passing urine
  • Needing to pass urine frequently or urgently
  • Cloudy urine
  • Passing excessive or large quantities of urine.

Over the last six months, more than 8,500 women in the Black Country aged between 16-64 have presented at their GP practice with a UTI.

Sarb Basi, Director of Primary Care for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “UTIs are one of the most common bacterial infections that GPs see in female patients. They can develop quickly, be extremely painful and, understandably, patients want fast access to rapid relief of symptoms. As a result, it means UTIs take up a large proportion of resource within the healthcare system.

“Previously, pharmacists have only been able to provide over-the-counter treatments that offer relief from the symptoms of a UTI. However, this scheme will now allow pharmacists to provide the appropriate treatment to address and treat the underlying bacterial infection causing the infection.

“Community pharmacists are highly trained medical professionals who play a fantastic role in ensuring that thousands of people have their minor ailment needs addressing quickly. They are a prime example of getting the right care, in the right place, at the right time, and the introduction of this pilot demonstrates the enhanced role that pharmacists can play in supporting services provided by the NHS and GP practices.

“Not all patients with a UTI will need antibiotics, but if they do, they can now be provided quickly and conveniently without the need for a GP appointment or prescription. So, I would encourage anyone who thinks they may have a UTI to take advantage of this new service and make their local pharmacy their first port of call.”

There are more than 170 pharmacies across the Black Country signed up to offer support and treatment for UTIs. Click here for more information and to find your nearest participating pharmacy. 

Community pharmacies in the North East and North Cumbria were the first to launch the #ByeByeUTI initiative back in July 2022. Since then, more than a thousand women have benefited from the scheme. More information can be found on the NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board website here.

Heart Health Hub Offers Free Blood Pressure Readings and Support to Local Community

On Monday 27th February 2023, a new Heart Health Hub will open its doors at the DY1 Centre in Dudley, offering free blood pressure readings and expert support to help improve the heart health of residents.

On the day, the Heart Health Hub, which is open to anyone in the local community, aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy heart and reducing the risk of heart disease. The hub will be prepared with blood pressure monitoring equipment and staffed by qualified healthcare professionals who can provide advice and support on heart-healthy living.

Dr Lloyd Baron, Clinical Advisor for Health Inequalities at Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust said:

"Our goal is to help as many people as possible in our community improve their heart health.

"By providing free blood pressure readings and expert support, we hope to empower people to take control of their heart health and make positive lifestyle changes that can improve their overall wellbeing."

In addition to free blood pressure readings, the Heart Health Hub will also offer a range of resources and information on heart-healthy living, including tips on diet, exercise, stress management, and smoking cessation.

The Hub will also provide free hot drinks to all visitors.

Joe Taylor, Strategic Commissioning and Transformation Lead at Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust said:

"We want to create a welcoming and friendly environment where people feel comfortable and supported in their efforts to improve their heart health,"

Visiting hours are between 5 pm – 6 pm and the Hub will be located at the DY1 Centre on Stafford Street in Dudley. No appointment is necessary, and the service is completely free of charge.

For more information, please email

Address: DY1 Centre, Stafford Street, Dudley, DY1 1RT

Date: Monday 27th February 2023

Time: 5 pm – 6 pm