Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) welcomed Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive Officer of NHS England, to its Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) at Rose Hill Community Centre on Friday 24 February.

Amanda met with Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Executive Officer at OUH, as well as clinical staff to discuss the positive work undertaken by OUH to improve the patient experience for women in the early stages of their pregnancy.  The EPAU is staffed by clinical nurse specialists and doctors, the service being previously provided at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

By delivering early pregnancy care in a community setting rather than in a hospital environment, the team can support women in a sensitive situation. If women are experiencing problems in their early pregnancy, which in some cases can sadly lead to a miscarriage, the community setting helps avoid unnecessary and potentially upsetting visits to hospital.

Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Executive Officer at OUH, said: "It was a pleasure to show Amanda some of the excellent work our Gynaecology colleagues at OUH are doing to improve patient care for women who experience complications in their early pregnancy.

“The visit showed us not only the impressive efforts of our EPAU team, but also the work being carried out by maternity colleagues in partnership with community initiatives to work with pregnant women in harder-to-reach areas.  Addressing health inequalities is a key priority for our Trust, and it was great to share with Amanda some of the ways this is being addressed at Oxfordshire Place level.”


Members of Oxford City Council were also there for Amanda’s visit, as Rose Hill Community Centre is a council-owned building and hosts the EPAU alongside other health and community initiatives. Physiotherapy, health visitors, exercise classes, mental health help, and diabetes prevention are all available in the community centre.

Councillor Louise Upton, Oxford City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Transport, said: “It was a pleasure to meet Amanda Pritchard last week and talk to her about the importance of community-based health services. Amanda was able to see first-hand how successful it is providing healthcare in a less formal environment. The benefit to the patients can be huge -  easier access and less stress gives better outcomes. While visiting the community centre people may also connect with a different activity that can help them feel better and be healthier.

“The early pregnancy unit at Rose Hill Community Centre is a fantastic resource for local residents, and is a great example of how local councils and the NHS can work together to provide healthcare closer to people’s homes.”

Amanda’s trip to Oxford also included a visit to three GP practices (27@Northgate, 28@Northgate and KES@Northgate) which are located in the Northgate Health Centre in the heart of the city. The premises opened in June 2022, and the three GP practices provide care to around 20,000 patients in modern, spacious premises.

Dr MaryKate Kirkaldy, GP partner at KES@Northgate and on behalf of the three GP practices at the Northgate Health Centre, said: “We thank Amanda for visiting the health centre which was a great opportunity to explain how a modern NHS service delivers care to thousands of patients each year in a busy city.

“Amanda toured our modern facilities, including shared treatment rooms and technology that benefit patient care.

“As students make up a large proportion of our patients, Amanda met with welfare staff from local university colleges to understand better the issues affecting younger people, and some of our patients who took the time to describe their experiences of our health services.”

Amanda said: “It was a pleasure to meet the staff who are working so hard to provide the best level of excellent, compassionate care to our patients.

“My visit to the EPAU demonstrated just how important the patient experience is to the staff working there, and the compassion and support they show women with complications in early pregnancy is so impressive.  I was also able to see some of the fantastic community outreach work they are doing in partnership with various organisations to help women who may not otherwise access their services.

 “I also enjoyed my visit to the Northgate Health Centre, and it was fantastic to meet GPs, health staff and practice nurses who help deliver primary care services in Oxford.

“My visit was a reminder of how well general practice manages patient care, effectively using staff with a variety of clinical skills, from GPs and paramedics to specialised practice nurses supported by technology to manage the number of requests for care and treatment.

“I saw good partnership working between the health centre and the welfare teams at the local university colleges to support the needs of the large student population in the city. I also enjoyed meeting patients from the three practices to understand better their concerns and perspectives. Getting feedback from patients is so important to help the NHS develop and improve services.”

(pictured l/r: Dr Rachel Allan, GP partner at 28@Northgate, Dr David McCartney, GP partner at 27@Northgate,  Amanda Pritchard, NHS England CEO, Dr MaryKate Kirkaldy, GP partner at KES@Northgate)