An NHS Devon ICB (Integrated Care Board) project that allows patients to consult GPs located anywhere in the UK has won a prestigious national healthcare award.

The innovative ‘GP in the Cloud’ initiative was crowned the winner of the Virtual Care Project of the Year Award at the HSJ Partnership Awards.

GP in the Cloud – a partnership between NHS Devon ICB, DELT Shared Services, Integy and NASGP – was also named runner-up in the coveted Best Healthcare Provider Partnership with the NHS category.

The project team received the accolades at a gala ceremony held at Evolution London in Battersea Park on Thursday 21 March.

The HSJ Partnership Awards celebrate the role of collaboration in shaping the integrated health and care system of the future.

Judges praised the GP in the Cloud team for their success in “working together to set up and deliver a service that enables safe, effective virtual care.

“It (GP in the Cloud) involved patients in the care plan, equipping them to contribute to their own recovery, and has potential to scale up to meet future care demands.”

Dr John McCormick, Chief Clinical Information Officer for Devon ICB, said: “These accolades are deserved recognition for a project that brings tangible benefits to GP practices and patients, and a tribute to the organisations that delivered it.

“Each of the partners involved in GP in the Cloud brings a specialism. It is the combination of these specialisms that resulted in the success of this project. It is an outstanding example of true partnership working and what can be achieved.”

Delt CEO, Giles Letheren, added: “We are incredibly proud of our team and partners for delivering a groundbreaking solution that directly benefits NHS Devon and patients alike.

“Our joint win highlights the transformative impact of collaboration and technology in driving efficiency and accessibility within primary care settings. To have co-designed and implemented GP in the Cloud, a remote access platform that enables locum GPs to access a patient’s full medical record safely, securely and from any location, without the need to be issued a dedicated laptop, is good, but the bigger victory is in working together.

“The project itself was made feasible solely due to the willingness of NHS Devon to collaborate effectively with multiple partners. While the win for Virtual Care Project of the year reflects the utility and impact of our platform, we are perhaps even prouder of our silver award for Best Partnership.”

GP in the Cloud was developed as a response to the shortage of GPs in Devon. While online consultation revolutionised how GP services were delivered during the Covid-19 pandemic, they had their limitations as clinical systems could be accessed remotely but other systems could not.

NHS Devon ICB developed a solution that means GPs located anywhere in the UK to carry out consultations with patients from their own devices. It allows practices to offer more appointments to patients and can quickly alleviate any unforeseen issues such as unplanned staff absence by using it.

Thirty-four practices in Devon were actively involved in the pilot project and have successfully embedded GP in the Cloud.

After the initial pilot, GP in the Cloud technology was made available to the remaining Devon practices. By the end of 2022, it was embedded as the ‘business as usual’ model across the NHS Devon ICB footprint, providing thousands of additional clinical hours and cost savings.

And, following the successful roll-out, NHS Devon ICB was asked by NHS England to develop a blueprint to support regional and national roll out of the technology. This blueprint is currently being used by NHS England to support a phased rollout of our GP in the Cloud technology with plans for it to become available nationally.