GP practice boosts patient health with innovative exercise schemes and money advice

An award-winning medical centre is going the extra mile for its patients by offering new ways to detect and manage cardiovascular risk factors.

24 October 2018, by Siobhan Chan

Crail Medical Centre staff pictured at the BHF Alliance Awards in June, with Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the BHF. Credit: Christian Dyson Photography

A GP practice in Glasgow has begun offering longer appointments, targeted screening and an exercise club to help tackle cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure among its patients.

The Crail Medical Centre provides advice for people with long-term conditions who want to go back to work, runs a weekly walking group and has set up 20-minute ‘care planning’ clinics to help reduce the number of appointments patients have to attend.

The work won staff the ‘Team of the Year’ at the BHF Alliance Awards at a ceremony in Manchester in June 2018.

“The care delivered within the practice from the moment the patient arrives is driven by the person's needs and what matters to them,” said Rachel Bruce, practice pharmacist at the centre

Lifestyle change

The practice is based in Parkhead, a deprived area of Glasgow with a lower life expectancy compared to the rest of Scotland.1 Practice staff say they were ‘determined and dedicated’ to improve the health of local people by addressing their social needs.

The team has embedded non-medical services into the practice, including a programme for people out of work due to chronic health problems, including mental health conditions, and a money support service.

“For many of these patients, their physical health is not their main day-to-day worry,” said Dr Emma Douglas, GP at the practice. 


Putting patients at the heart of care

The Crail Medical Centre is part of the BHF House of Care Programme. This £1.5 million, three-year project aimed to embed care and support planning in the NHS. This is a new model of care to improve patient involvement in decision-making about their care.

Forty-one general practices across the five funded sites have successfully introduced a care and support planning approach as part of our programme.

Learn more

Blood pressure clinics

When practice staff assessed the patient journey for hypertension at the practice, they found that patients had frequent appointments with different clinicians. So they redesigned protocols for diagnosing and reviewing hypertension.

Patients now attend a 20-minute appointment with the practice pharmacist, which allows her to provide lifestyle advice through a care and support planning meeting.

From February to June 2017, 81 patients were seen at the hypertension clinic, and 51 of those people were treated to target as a result. Overall, 90% of patients reported being either happy or very happy with their appointment

The team has now started targeted atrial fibrillation screening for everyone over the age of 65 or with a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Boosting physical activity

The team started a weekly lunchtime walking group to support patients to exercise and lead a healthier lifestyle. Patients said it gave them motivation and confidence, and that staff members are ‘supportive and helpful’.

Practice staff, along with advisors from local charity programme Glasgow Life: Live Active, set up an intensive, 12-week programme of education and exercise for a small group of patients with chronic disease.

Of the 11 participants who took part in one of these programmes, five had a reduction in blood pressure, and three out of four people with type 2 diabetes had a reduction in blood glucose levels. The participants also lost weight, reduced their waist circumference, and reported increased self-esteem.

Healthcare support worker Lisa Wilson said: “We are so happy to be able to give our patients the extra support and care they require, and also that the practice as a whole has come together to make positive changes in new ways to improve patients’ overall health and wellbeing.”


For the full stories on how BHF Alliance award winners have improved patient care through innovation, read other articles in our Profile series:



1 Understanding Glasgow – the Glasgow Indicators Project. Parkhead and Dalmarnock (PDF)