One significant achievement over the past eight weeks has been the way that colleagues across the ICS have connected virtually and harnessed available technology to do this. The modifications made to enable patients to access outpatients appointments by video or phone is one example of this.

Dr Aalia Khan is a GP in Leatherhead and a Clinical Ambassador for the Academy. She explains how new technology has impacted on her role: “Since our practice doors were closed to face-to-face contact with patients to avoid the spread of infection we only see patients with urgent problems, the rest are triaged over the phone or – thanks to the Surrey Heartlands Digital Team who have been heroic in pushing the digital agenda through at lightning speed – via video conference call,” she said.

“A ‘digital front door’ has been introduced very quickly to practices – this was on the cards but to be rolled out over the next few months. Instead it has been done in a matter of weeks. It is an online signposting tool for patients to make contact with the practice, ensuring their request is dealt with by the right person at the right time. It has been a huge challenge to get to grips with new technology but I have found it invaluable in caring for patients and reassuring them that general practice is still open for business.”

To support and drive forward further other technological innovations, The Academy is representing Surrey Heartlands in a consortium led by Surrey and Borders Partnership to set up a Health Technology Accelerator at the University of Surrey, due to open in October

The initial infrastructure for the Accelerator is being supported by capital investment from Enterprise M3, the Local Enterprise Partnership, and in kind resource contributions from founding partners, which include Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and the University of Surrey.

The Accelerator aims to speed up the research and development of promising start-up companies’ innovations and then advance the uptake and economic growth of well-evidenced, beneficial and good value solutions.

The Academy’s role is to link the Surrey Heartlands workforce into the Accelerator projects and grow a community of innovators to support product development projects.