About Bicester Healthy Groups

Meet the team

Clinician: Dr Ellen Fallows MBBCh BA (oxon), MRCGP, DFFP, DRCOG, DipBSLM

Clinician: Dr Ellen Fallows MBBCh BA (oxon), MRCGP, DFFP, DRCOG, DipBSLM.

Dr Fallows is an experienced local GP with a post-graduate diploma in weight management and lifestyle medicine. She works with the Royal College of General Practitioners, the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine and the NHS Type-2 Diabetes Remission pilots (Low Calorie Meal Replacement). She ran face-to-face group consultations at Montgomery House Surgery in 2019 after which she left to scale these up for Bicester. She is now working as a GP at Brackley Medical Centre, where she hopes to set up face-to-face groups when it is safe to do so.

Facilitator: Hazel Walsh BSc (hons) Ost

Hazel is an experienced facilitator with a keen interest in healthcare and physical activity. She has worked as an osteopath and in promoting good health through physical activity for Cherwell District Council, Active Oxfordshire, Women in Sport and Healthy Bicester. She comes from a coaching background and is able to help individuals process their situation and arrive at realistic goals and strategies to achieve them.

All sessions are one-off sessions on a Tuesday.

Participants will need to be able access a laptop or phone with video and mic capability and a quiet private space to join a group.

Morning session: 10-11.30am

Lunchtime session: 12.30-2pm

Afternoon session: 3-4.30pm

Future dates and group topics will be confirmed. Group topics will depend on what YOU want to talk about; tell us what you want. For example, we already have requests for groups on Type-2 diabetes, weight management, menopause, depression, anxiety and living well with cancer. We can host groups on any topic you want to talk to a GP about . By filling out our short form you can help us put on relevant sessions.

Get in touch

The best way to contact us is to complete our short form (also below) and one of the team will be in touch.

You can also reach us on info@bicesterhealthygroups.org.uk or call 0300 303 0919

Leave your name and a daytime contact number and we'll call you back

To open this form so that you can fill it in, click on the grey window that appears top right

To help you understand more about what happens in group clinics, we’ve provided some descriptions below. However, the group clinic discussion is entirely led by the participants therefore it will vary according to what you want to talk about; everyone has a turn to talk and the session is started and concluded by our facilitator Hazel, our clinician GP Dr Ellen Fallows joins the group in the middle of the session.

Similar themes emerge in all groups, as people with similar conditions often share similar challenges and concerns:

Living well with Type-2 Diabetes Groups

Many people with Type-2 Diabetes describe feeling isolated and worried about their health. People tell us that meeting together with others with the same conditions helps them to feel more positive and find new ways to keep well.

Many people want to know more about how to manage their health with fewer medications and ideally without insulin. The longer clinic time available in groups give you more opportunity to explore these other options. We often explore how, with the right support around managing stress, sleep, fitting in being active and changing what and when we eat, some people can even reverse Type-2 diabetes. We know that financial/carer stress can make it harder for people with Type-2 diabetes to keep well; in these groups we can link you in with free community support to overcome some of the challenges you might be facing.

Group on “more options to manage chronic pain”

Many people with chronic pain from whatever cause, describe feeling isolated and misunderstood. People tell us that coming together with others with similar experiences in a group clinic, helps them to feel more positive and find new ways to keep well.

Many people also want to know about how to manage their health with fewer medications particularly addictive medications. Our GP can discuss medication reduction plans and how to manage the effects of withdrawal by using non-medication approaches. We can also give you further information/links to other groups to support your own goals around pain management or medication reduction.

We know that financial/work/carer stress can be a problem for people managing chronic pain and we can link you in with support in the community to overcome some of the challenges you might be facing.

Menopause Groups

The research on options for menopausal symptoms is rapidly changing and leaving many people feeling confused. Often a 10-minute appointment isn’t enough to discuss people’s questions and concerns. Having 1.5 hours in a group allows people to share their own experiences and solutions as well as explore the latest evidence on the advantages and side effects or risks with HRT with an experienced GP.

People often want to talk about whether they are going through the menopause and if there are other ways to help manage symptoms that can be used alongside or as an alternative to HRT.

COPD/Asthma Groups

Many people with COPD or asthma tell us that they are unsure about what their inhalers do, how to prevent attacks or exacerbations and would like to know more about how to manage fatigue and anxiety related to their lung condition and Covid-19 in particular. People in these groups often share how they have coped with Covid-19 and use things like breathing exercises to manage anxiety and excess sputum for example. Having longer to talk through all the options can be really helpful when learning how to manage your own treatment plans.

Anxiety/low mood Groups

People with low mood and anxiety tell us that attending a group makes them feel more positive about the future and that they feel more confident to do things themselves to start to feel better; particularly things that might work in addition to anti-depressant medication. Many people want to explore how to improve sleep and become more active despite feeling fatigued. We often talk about how food has been found to strongly affect mood and how eating more vegetables and fruit has been found to improve mood as much as anti-depressant medication can. People also often share how Covid-19 has meant they have felt more isolated, and we talk about how to reach back out to our friends and family networks as well as talk about community groups that are already running to help people connect.

Frequently asked questions (click the arrow on the right to expand this section)

What are Bicester Healthy Groups?

Bicester Healthy Groups are video group clinics. Video group clinics are a way for you to join people with similar health issues and consult with your GP, nurse or health care professional for longer. You may also see consultants, pharmacists, social prescribers and health coaches in this way

How will I benefit from Bicester Healthy Groups?

People who have participated in face-to-face group clinics say that they enjoy hearing from other people in a similar situation and having longer to talk about their concerns. They say they enjoy sharing what has worked for them and what doesn’t but also hearing from other people’s success. They report feeling a sense of belonging and that they are no longer alone in trying to manage their condition such as asthma, diabetes or depression

Can I still have a one-to-one video or face-to-face consultation with my GP or nurse?

Yes, practices will always offer face-to-face appointments and one-to-one appointments when available in their usual way. Video group clinics are used as an extra way to support those who want to use this format.

How do I join a Bicester Healthy Group clinic?

You will need an email account or mobile phone with internet access and access to the internet in a private place. You don’t need any special programs as you will be sent a private link to join. Bicester Healthy Groups will usually be scheduled on a Tuesday morning, lunch time or afternoon.

What happens in a Bicester Healthy Group clinic?

Once you’ve clicked the link to join in, you will be welcomed by Hazel Walsh our trained facilitator. Hazel will keep the group secure by asking you to confirm your identity and will start the session by reminding everyone in the group to keep information confidential.

Hazel will then explain how the session will flow and each member of the group (often 8-10 participants) will introduce themselves. You will have time to review and understand your health assessment results, if you have agreed to share them, such as blood pressure, peak flow etc and come up with questions for Dr Fallows or other clinicians who will join the group and have one to one consultation with each member. During this time people often join in and share ideas and problem-solve together. Hazel will wrap up after 60-90 minutes and you might want to set goals for yourself.

Following the group, usually you will have been given advice on how to seek further support with your health goals. However, some people may need to arrange follow-up tests, see their own GP or be referred to a hospital appointment.

How do I know if Bicester Healthy Groups are for me?

You can talk to Hazel Walsh to find out more by registering your interest on our website or calling our help-line on 0300 303 0919 or e-mailing info@bicesterhealthygroups.org.uk Group consultations might not suit everyone, if you are feeling worried beforehand, let Hazel know. It is OK to join a group just to listen and see if it is for you. Some people may even join in and decide to leave if it isn’t right for them. At any point you can leave a group and book a one-to-one appointment later with your surgery when one becomes available.

I liked seeing a doctor in Bicester Healthy Groups, how can I attend another group?

Please register your interest for a follow-up group and the health topic you are interested to discuss on 0300 303 0919 or by e-mailing info@bicesterhealthygroups.org.uk

I’d like to help Bicester Healthy Groups improve and give some feed-back or offer to let more people in Bicester know about this, how can I get in touch?

At the end of every group we will ask you what went well and what could have been done better, there will also be a way to formally but anonymously feed-back. Otherwise, you can contact us on 0300 303 0919 or e-mail info@bicesterhealthygroups.org.uk

What happens if I change my mind when I’m in a Bicester Healthy Group clinic?

If you feel a group clinic isn’t working for you, let Hazel know and you can leave and arrange appointments with your surgery as you usually would. Feed-back will be collected after every clinic so let Hazel know if there are ways to help you feel more comfortable.

Can we form our own patient groups after the Bicester Healthy Group appointment?

Of course, some people find that it is helpful to create support groups outside of the surgery to help each other stick to goals for example. The team at Bicester Healthy Groups can only share your contact details with the group with your express permission and can’t share other people’s details with you without their permission.

Have video group clinics been tried before and what do patients think about them?

Yes, video group clinics have been used in America in The Cleveland Clinic and the University of California Department of Psychiatry for example and in Australia for many years. During the first two Covid-19 lock-downs some GP practices in the UK used video group clinics to see patients. These teams report that patients find these groups just as helpful as face-to-face groups and health improvements have been seen. It is still early days for research to report on how successful video group clinics are in the UK which is why the University of Oxford is collecting feed-back from patients who have participated in a video group clinic.

Do I need to have any blood tests or checks before I join a Bicester Healthy Group clinic?

Hazel will email you before your group clinic to let you know if you need any health assessments and ask for your permission to share this information in the session. It is useful to bring with you any home recordings of weight, blood pressure and blood sugar readings for example.

Can my partner, friend or carer join me in my Bicester Healthy Group clinic?

Yes, with your agreement. It is often very useful for carers or family members to join in. They will need to agree to confidentiality and confirm their identity just like other participants. Ideally you should keep to just one extra member or groups can get too large.

Video groups are particularly useful for this as a relative who lives at a different address or even abroad can join in to support you.

Can I record my Bicester Healthy Group clinic session?

No, to ensure all information shared in the session is kept confidential and your privacy respected, you will be asked to adhere to the ‘Patient Agreement’. This asks you not to record, share or post any aspect of the session. It’s in everyone’s interest to respect this.

Can I share my clinic link with someone else who wants to join in?

You should only share the link with a relative or carer that you wish to join you in the group clinic. You shouldn’t share the link with anyone else.

What happens if I don’t want to say anything in a Bicester Healthy Group clinic?

Let our facilitator Hazel Walsh know if you are feeling worried about being in a group. It is OK to join a group to listen. Many people do this and end up joining in once they feel comfortable.

What happens if I am late joining my group?

You may not be allowed to join the group as it is important that everyone has agreed at the start to confidentiality and confirms their identity. It also disrupts the group for others. You may be asked to book into another group clinic or one-to-one appointment.

How is my health information kept confidential during a group?

All participants are requested to agree to a maintaining confidentiality before they enter a group. This states that they agree not to share any information discussed within the group. Unlike the confidentiality regulations surrounding a doctor’s obligation to keep all information confidential, this is not enforceable by law. However, as a behavioural contract it is repeated throughout the group session and as all participants will be sharing personal information, it is thought that the chances of a confidentiality breach are low.

During the video group, we will encourage you to share your health assessment information so that the GP can support you where you need it the most. This information will be shared with the group in the form of a health assessment board. For example, in a diabetes group this might include blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Are under 18s allowed to join or be in the background of a VGC and do they need to consent?

As with face-to-face consultations, young people below the age of 13 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Young people between the ages of 13-15 years may attend alone if a clinician has assessed their competencies prior to the group but ideally, they should be advised to have a parent or guardian present.

If a young person is to be involved in Bicester Healthy Groups they must be identified, consented, and agree to adhere to the confidentiality agreement as an adult would.

Young people (of any age) in the background must be declared to the group and the facilitator must coordinate agreement within the group to progress. Hazel would make the overall decision as to the appropriateness of the information being discussed with young people present.

Any other questions?

If you have other questions please leave a message on 0300 303 0919 or e-mail info@bicesterhealthygroups.org.uk