Babylon Health is reported to have started recruiting GPs in Birmingham despite being currently blocked from expanding into the city.

Hammersmith and Fulham CCG put the brakes on a planned roll-out of the GP at Hand service in Birmingham last month, following concerns about patient safety.

Babylon, whose technology powers GP at Hand, wanted to set up shop in the UK’s second-largest city and add it to the five London locations where its GPs are currently based.

But while Birmingham patients would use the service to consult with GPs in the city, they would have to officially be registered with Dr Jefferies & Partners in Fulham, south-west London.

The practice sits within Hammersmith and Fulham CCG, which was facing additional fees of up to £10.6 million due to the popularity of the GP at Hand service.

Paul Jennings – chief executive of Birmingham and Solihull CCG – wrote to Hammersmith and Fulham to lodge a formal objection to the expansion. He argued the digital service was “not yet robust or tested for a national service to be delivered from a single practice outside of Birmingham”.

Despite this, Babylon has launched a recruitment campaign in Birmingham and is holding events in the city this week where it hopes to entice GPs onto the platform, reports Pulse.

Paul Bate, Babylon’s director of NHS services, confirmed the company was recruiting in the city and that its intention remained to launch GP at Hand there.

Babylon’s plan was to establish a physical presence at Badger House, an out-of-hours GP services provider based in the inner-city area.

But these were put on ice after Hammersmith and Fulham CCG concluded there was “evidence of concern regarding the risk to patient safety”, adding that “further information is required to provide assurance on the safety of patients” before the Birmingham roll-out could be approved.

Speaking to Digital Health News at the time, a GP at Hand spokesperson said the CCG’s board papers “contained several factual inaccuracies” that it planned to challenge.

The situation serves as a fresh obstacle for healthcare disruptor Babylon, whose expansion plans have already been scaled back by NHS England.

Hammersmith and Fulham CCG is expected to review Babylon’s proposal later this month.