Careers in General Practice in Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire
Air Balloon Surgery is located in St George, around 3 miles east of Bristol city centre in a well-designed, purpose-built modern building which has attractive consultation rooms, good staff facilities and an attached Lloyds pharmacy.
Staff at the surgery report that they enjoy working here, being part of a close-knit team and working supportively to provide high quality patient services.
The current GP complement consists of two partners and six Associate GPs. The large team of supporting staff includes practice nurses, practice clinical pharmacist, specialist mental health nurse, phlebotomists, health care assistants, secretaries, receptionists, finance officer, IT and data input staff, practice manager, assistant practice manager, and HRM manager.
The practice runs an urgent care team each day which consists of the duty GP, minor illness nurse sessions and mental health nurse.
The reception staff are well trained to signpost patients to the most appropriate service within an appropriate time scale.
The practice offers traditional face to face appointments with GP’s, nurses and practice clinical pharmacist, as well as phone slots. The team also has particular skills in providing GP services to care and nursing homes, with robust systems and processes enabling diverse, effective clinical services and patient care. Air Balloon Surgery looks after an adjacent 67 bed, high dependency nursing home, the residents of a 40 bed unit for patients with dementia, patients with complex health needs with the local Priory Hospital, and a number of other smaller residential units.
Air Balloon Surgery is also part of the Inner City East locality and works with East practices, a sub section of the ICE locality.
The practice is currently running a pilot with Avon and Wiltshire Partnership (AWP), with AWP mental health nurses seeing practice patients on site, exploring the opportunities to model a new approach to pathways and services across Bristol.
Air Balloon Surgery is a friendly practice with a reputation for offering a rewarding working life, with a large and lively team committed to providing excellent patient care but also with a firm commitment to personal and professional development. The practice likes to innovate and explore new ways of working.
Staff think highly of the practice and an open supportive culture is promoted. Staff are encouraged to contribute to the wider running of the practice and are valued and listened to.
There are clear lines of accountability and senior leadership set the tone by encouraging and enabling a supportive culture.
During the day the GP’s aim to meet for coffee, once a week there is a formal clinical meeting and, once a month, a shared pizza lunch. Other recent less informal events include the Great Air Balloon Bake Off and entering a team in the Bristol 10K.
Understanding that happy staff provide better quality services and that the balance between work and home life is important to everyone, the practice works with individual members of staff to enable the work/life balance they need.
The practice is always open to changing how a job is structured and will always try to accommodate any request for changes to working arrangements.
Job sharing, part time working, sharing roles, term time working, home and remote working are all encouraged and supported.
The practice also has staff members who work across organisations temporarily or permanently.
Air Balloon Surgery also offers a range of family friendly benefits including unpaid leave, paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave, childcare voucher scheme, carers leave.
These family friendly benefits create a culture where staff feel fully supported.
Where a member of staff has particular family or personal issues, the practice will work with them to resolve their issues in a constructive way which respects and support their individual needs.
The practice has a clear focus on giving full encouragement and financial support to staff who wish to develop, building a strong well-functioning practice in the process.
Air Balloon Surgery has a strong interest in teaching and research. As a GP Training Practice, all doctors have an opportunity to teach medical students from Bristol University. Many of the practice team have been active in research projects designed and run within the surgery. Many of these were published and most involved working collaboratively across academic, primary and secondary care organisations.
The practice works hard to develop staff members. If staff are happy in their existing role, the practice is pleased to support them too. There are many examples of members of the clinical and support team developing roles and being promoted within the practice.
The practice runs an in-house programme for clinical staff twice a month and holds regular in-house training events for support staff.
Staff are given paid study leave to attend external events and the practice generally funds the costs of any events in full. A number of staff have been supported to gain various qualifications such as nurses doing supplementary prescribing or clinical diplomas, as well as shorter courses.
From the beginning, staff are given a very comprehensive induction programme. The core programme includes mandatory items as well as areas designed to help new staff settle in quicker and really feel part of the team. The programme is also tailored to take care of individual needs.
Newly qualified and less experienced GPs value the support given by being linked with a partner when they join the practice.
This is in addition to regular departmental and whole team meetings. There are weekly clinical meetings, a monthly clinical education meeting, a programme of case studies, SEA, clinical IT, invited speakers, etc. The partners and Practice Manager also meet every week to discuss strategic and business matters.
Regular social events also take place throughout the year from a Christmas do to a summer event. Previous events have included taking the boat to Beese’s Riverside Bar on the river Avon.
The compact catchment area covers St George and surrounding suburbs and includes a practice population of 13,600. Most patients are in social classes three to five and there are many extended families on the register. More young professional patients are starting to move into the area, attracted by easy access to Bristol without central Bristol house prices. Unemployment is similar to the national average. There is a small but growing number of patients from ethnic minorities. Around 16% of patients are aged over sixty-five and 6% under 5 years old. Although reasonably close to the city centre, there are no issues commonly associated with inner city areas, although many patients have complex morbidity and social problems.
The practice gets lots of positive feedback from patients and the organisations they work with.
The practice reports that patients are great to work with and the team works in partnership with them.
Most patient feedback is very good and the practice’s Patient Participation Group is very supportive, helping the team to keep in touch with patients.
Air Balloon Surgery generally performs well for all clinical areas and achieves all targets. QOF achievement for 2017/18 was 99%. The practice was inspected by the Care Quality Commission in June 2018 and continue to be rated as “good” in all areas.