In view of the reported government policy that will require all those over 70 years old to remain in their homes for up to four months due to COVID-19, Stevenage FC Chairman Phil Wallace has offered to help those most in need...

"Whilst I understand the logic behind flattening the peak curve, so that the NHS are able to treat more people with the limited ITU beds and equipment available, this will undoubtably cause anguish for those folks that can’t use the internet, have no relatives and no way of ordering supplies or obtaining meals.

"We have always prided ourselves on being a community club and now it’s time to show what that means. Starting immediately, we will start to work on the logistics of obtaining details of folks that will need help. We have kitchens we are not using, we have young players that can’t play football and we have an army of youngsters that, if asked and organized properly, would be willing to help distribute meals and obtain supplies.


"I intend to work with CEO Alex Tunbridge to make this happen. To be honest, we have no idea how the club can survive for long whilst paying players and staff with no income, but some of these folks have nobody to help them and we will make sure we are there for them.

"If that means we cook food and prepare snacks, that is what we’ll do. If it is getting essential supplies to them, that is what we'll do. We will be there for these people and we would encourage all local businesses in the area to join with us. If we all work together, we can avoid serious hardship to people that need the most help."

South Stevenage Primary Care Network


At the beginning of 2019 the government and the GPC, the body representing GPs, agreed a five year contract which aimed to alleviate the workforce pressures on general practice, secure enhanced investment into primary medical care, and roll out new ways to help patients.

The new GP contract is based around the creation of primary care networks (PCNs)  According to NHS England “A PCN consists of groups of general practices working together with a range of local providers–including across primary care, community services, social care and the voluntary sector –offering more personalised, coordinated care to their local populations. There has been an enthusiastic response to PCNs across the country: over 99% of practices have signed up to participating in around 1250 networks, firmly establishing PCNs as a route to greater collaboration across general practice and the wider NHS”.

The government in 2020 has committed considerable additional funding to primary care which should result in up to 6000 new roles within primary care over the next four years.   The idea is not to replace GPs with allied health professionals, but to improve the link between people with questions about their health and social care and people who can provide the answers.

There are now two PCNs is Stevenage.  The Shephall Health Centre is part of the South Stevenage PCN, together with the surgeries at Knebworth, King Georges, Bedwell and Marymead.  The PCN was formally established mid 2019.  Until then all of these surgeries operated independently. In addition to providing the ongoing service we enjoy, the staff within the PCN will now need to spend considerable amounts of time and effort to establish new ways of working and work out how to manage the funding and additional services across the PCN.  Unfortunately, in the early stage of its development this integration is likely to put additional time pressures on an already stretched service.

In the short term, you will probably not see anything different.  However, as the PCN evolves new services will become available within the health centre delivered by clinical pharmacists, physiotherapists, physician’s associates, social prescribing link workers, paramedics, pharmacy technicians, care-coordinators, occupational therapists, dietitians, and podiatrists that are not normally available within the health centre.

The PCN is already consulting with the different Patient Participation Groups to ensure that the patient perspective is understood and taken into account in any decision making.

We will be able to provide more information about the service and time frames as the PCN evolves.  Watch this space!!

Consult online








The overall demand for doctor’s appointment across the UK is continuing to increase. General Practice, like much of the NHS at present, is under unprecedented pressure for contact and support for patients.  If you listen to the politicians the situation is particularly confusing.  Some say the number of GPs is increasing whilst other say the number has fallen. Independent analysis is also confusing.  However, whichever way you look at the number, the UK population is growing, on average we are living longer and need more visits to the Doctor.

If you have tried to book a routine appointment at the health centre, you will know that, like most UK surgeries, you will probably have to wait around two or three weeks.  Urgent appointments can usually be booked on the same day.

In order to help address this issue, staff at the Health Centre have been looking for innovative ways of providing their patients with a choice of ways to engage with healthcare professionals  that are more suited to out 24/7 life styles

Shephall Health Centre is now using eConsult.  eConsult is an online consultation platform which means that you can use the platform at any time, even at the weekend.  The system will take you through a series of questions related to your symptoms exactly as a doctor would in a face to face consultation. The system will also identify serious issues that require immediate attention and give instructions as to what you may need to do e.g. Dial 999

Under normal circumstances you will receive a reply by the end of the next working day.  (A doctor or other healthcare professional may contact you for further information)

There are clear benefits for both Healthcare staff and patients. eConsult can help save time for the Health Centre staff – the average eConsult takes 2 or 3 minutes to read thanks to a succinct clinical report generated by the system. An average face to face session takes 10 plus minutes.  This means that a doctor can help 3 patients in the time normally taken by one.

Patients benefit from a quicker response than a face to face appointment.  Patients will save time by not having to visit the health centre and save any travel costs.

Next time you think you may need to see a doctor, why not give the system a try.  Unlike the online appointment system, you do not need to get a username and password form the Health Centre.  Simply log on to the system at and follow the on-screen instructions