23rd Nov 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we all live and work with healthcare centres being at the forefront of change. The NHS has stressed how important it is for patients to get medical help, calling on healthcare practices to adjust to the social distancing measures as quickly as possible.

Many medical healthcare centres have already implemented many of the following rules to keep patients safe:

  • Greater emphasis on the use of online consultations as part of the NHS ‘Digital First’ agenda.
  • Avoiding non-essential face-to-face visits
  • Creating safer waiting room areas
  • Requiring patients to have a temperature check before entry
  • Requiring patients to wear a face-covering
  • Preventing queues by ensuring patients arrive just in time for an appointment
  • Running remote clinics where possible
  • Sending prescriptions electronically to the chemist
  • Use of one-way systems to segregate patients entering and leaving surgeries

However, we believe there is still more healthcare centres can do to create a safer environment for staff and patients.

The winter pressures

The changing weather means healthcare centres will soon feel the pressure of increased traffic. Despite the rise in remote consultations, surgeries across the country will have to provide extra in-person appointments to deal with seasonal illnesses and vaccinations. While doing so, healthcare centres will still be expected to follow social distancing measures.

Waiting areas

Pre-Covid-19, patients expected overcrowded waiting areas. Unorganised and cramped waiting areas can increase anxiety in patients whereas spacious waiting rooms with access to light and natural ventilation make patients feel more at ease.

With a suspected increase in face-to-face appointments, and with social distancing guidelines to follow, waiting areas could be considered an extension of the therapeutic space, providing a spacious area that helps keep patients relaxed and safe.

Narrow corridors

Unfortunately, most healthcare buildings are not purpose-built and haven’t been developed with the end-user in mind. Narrow corridors are common in healthcare centres and limit patient movement. Due to many healthcare centres not having worked with a specialist healthcare property service before, corridors haven’t been considered as key circulation areas.

Where possible, healthcare centre managers should consider rearranging corridors to create a better sense of flow, including defining one-way systems when necessary to avoid close contact. This will make it easier for multiple patients or staff members to pass each other while following government guidelines.

Creating a safer centre

To create a safe space for patients that complies with government regulation, in many cases healthcare centres are already adjusting to the new normal. However, in cases where space is limited and causing issues, healthcare centre managers should consider seeking healthcare property specialists that can assist them in developing long term premises solutions that will benefit the practice and community for years to come.

Current Approach to COVID Compliant Buildings

Apollo is currently at the forefront of delivering state of the art medical facilities where we have had to adapt our approach to building design in response to the Covid pandemic.   Some of the new approaches to design include:

  • Clear zoning within our buildings that provides for ‘hot zones’ allowing clinicians to see potentially infected patients without compromising the continued operation of a building.
  • Inclusion of separate entrances to a building with remote door entry systems, which help our clients with their patient segregation strategies, making social distancing easier.
  • Reception desk designs now incorporate screens that help keep reception staff safe from potential sources of infection, which mirrors the approach taking in a retail environment.

At Apollo, we have delivered specialist healthcare property services for over 20 years working in partnership with GP practices, NHS bodies and other service providers. Our consultancy service can offer strategic development advice and property management to help you adjust and comply with social distancing regulations that could remain for the foreseeable future.

Click here to discover more on our website.

Online GP consultations
13th Oct 2020

In light of recent changes and social distancing guidelines, general practice surgeries across the nation have increased online consultations for the safety of both staff and patients. Over the last few months, in particular, GP’s ask patients to communicate via any phone, tablet or desktop device with limited face-to-face appointments. 

GPFV (General Practice Forward View) has been a part of NHS England’s plan to meet demand by taking consultations online. It focuses on investing in technology to reduce workload and speed up the transformation of GP services. Due to Covid-19, online consultations have increased recently but are online GPs really the future and how do they work anyway? 

How Do Virtual GP Consultations Work?

Online GP consultations allow patients to contact their online GP consultant about any new or on-going health problems virtually. The current social distancing limits in-person interaction, and they intend to communicate with patients mainly via text-based services as well as via telephone and video consultations. 

NHS Digital recently announced that between March and July, half of the 102 million GP appointments were carried out either over the phone or via video call. However, despite the success of online consultations, the NHS is still urging GPs to offer face-to-face appointments. With winter approaching the NHS wants patients to know they can access their GP if needed. They also reminded GPs that not offering face-to-face appointments is a breach of their contract which could lead to enforcement action if necessary. 

Why We Still Need Face-to-Face Consultations

Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, spoke on the matter saying: “The college does not want to see general practice become a totally, or even mostly, remote service post-pandemic.” With confusion amongst GPs and patients around the best way to carry out their appointments, we must question what the future will hold. 

As a healthcare specialist property service, we understand the need for GP surgeries to adapt and follow government guidelines related to the pandemic. However, it is clear GP surgeries will need to continue to be flexible throughout the winter offering a combination of in-person, over the phone and video appointments.

Patients will therefore expect GP transformations both online and offline and primary care buildings will still require further improvement to the health and wellbeing of its workers and users. Surgeries will therefore require more flexibility, becoming a space which is suitable for face-to-face appointments as well as online appointments. 

The Challenges of Becoming an Online-friendly GP

GPs and Practice Managers will be challenged with creating a space that is hospitable both online and offline which will be vital for patient’s wellbeing. To start, surgeries should consider transforming the traditional consulting rooms into space which is also online friendly. The use of screens and acoustics should be considered in all new GP developments going forward. To help with this transformation, surgeries should seek specialist healthcare property services to help seek and realise new opportunities beyond just property. 

At Apollo, we approach every project as a partnership. This allows us to build relationships and communities that bring together staff and patients to help create GP surgeries in the future. We can help improve your healthcare premises for both in-person and online use using our bespoke primary care property solutions. To find how we can help you further, get in touch today:

5th Oct 2020

As work progresses on the new Primary and Community Care Centre in Mountain Ash, the building has been given its new identity, with a little help from the local community.

Now named Tŷ Calon Lân, which translates to House of Pure Heart, developers have chosen a logo to sit alongside the new name, after running a competition locally.

Rob James, Managing Director at Apollo Capital Projects, the developers of the new Primary Care Centre said: “With Tŷ Calon Lân well on track to be completed early next year, it was time to start personalising the building with some custom branding. We encouraged the surrounding communities to get involved by entering a competition to create a logo.”

After receiving entries from a range of ages, a panel of representatives from Apollo, the Practice GPs and staff, the winner was announced as Tamzin Cross from Mountain Ash.

Rob added: “Tamzin presented fantastic professionalism and designed a clean, adaptable logo which is easy to read and apply to all the branding needed for the building.”

The logo will now be featured on internal signage, websites and letterheads as well as seen on the building itself.

The competition also included the four runners up;

Alesha Colins


Rachael Evans

Luke Morgan

Carley Beynon

Tŷ Calon Lân is due to be completed in early 2021 and will become home to Cynon Vale Medical Centre and Rhos House Surgery, delivering GP services to over 11,000 patients in the area.

Sara Bradley, Head of Primary Care at Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board said: “The new Primary Care Centre will be at the heart of the community in Mountain Ash, so we’re delighted that local residents are already becoming involved with the development of the site. The logo created by Tazmin starts to bring to life the facility which will bring together primary care services, community health services, patients and the local community. Thanks to Apollo for running this competition.” 

24th Sep 2020

The Simpson Centre and Millbarn Medical Centre will be relocating next year into a new purpose-built GP practice called the Beaconsfield Primary Care Centre and will be situated on the Parkway site fronting onto the A40 to the south of the town. Following the granting of planning permission in March, the building contract has now been awarded by the developer, Apollo Capital Projects Development Ltd to Ashe Construction Ltd. They are based in Hitchin and intend to commence construction next month. The new facility will be complete and available to patients by next Autumn.

The two-storey property will present onto the A40 Parkway, with vehicular access from a new junction into the site from Walkwood Rise, leading to a 110-space car park. Patients will have easy access to both floors of the GP, which will offer 29 clinical rooms, health education facilities and meeting rooms. Adjacent to the building entrance, there will be a pharmacy. The buildings’ design will cater for the forecast increase in the town’s population arising from the new housing developments.

With this co-location, both GP practices will be able to retain their own identity. They will benefit from working collaboratively together in the building for the benefit of their patients. 

The developer, Richard Drew, Development Director for Apollo Capital Projects Development Ltd said, “ Apollo is delighted to be involved with this fascinating and much-needed project for the town, which after five years since we first met both practices, is now ready to commence construction and be delivered for the patients for next autumn. The continued  support from both Buckinghamshire CCG and NHSE has been important as has the assistance and vision  from both Practices throughout.” 

Dr Steve Brown, a senior partner at Millbarn, said, “ I and all my staff at The Millbarn are very excited about the Beaconsfield community benefitting from a new surgery. We will be able to provide high-quality medical care and meet the challenges that the NHS faces in the future”.

Dr Moona Rakhit, a lead partner of the Simpson Centre, said, ”on behalf of my fellow partners and all staff at the Simpson centre, I would like to say how keenly we are awaiting a move to the new premises so we can further improve patient journeys. This will allow us to  expand the experience collaborating with other agencies like volunteer groups and other support agencies to provide more holistic care also for the surrounding health community in the primary care network.” 

Teresa Donnelly, NHS England Estates & Technology Transformation Fund Programme Manager, said, “NHS England has worked closely with both the Clinical Commissioning Group and the primary care development company Apollo Capital Projects Development Ltd to get to this stage of the development. We recognise that the provision of new surgery premises for the two practices is a very valuable development for the area and will provide the infrastructure to future-proof the provision of GP services for the area. We are delighted that the construction of this new GP surgery will shortly get underway”.  

The development is being funded by Assura plc. The new Beaconsfield Primary Care Centre will add to Assura’s existing portfolio of 570 primary care buildings. The development has benefited from capital funding from NHSE as part of a national programme to support investment in the primary care estate.