Seven GP practices in the Bury area intend to merge to improve patients’ ability to see their usual doctor and to provide additional services in the community.
The merger will be subject to all regulatory approvals and appropriate levels of engagement with patients and staff.
The seven surgeries intend to become one practice, Tower Family Healthcare, with over 30 GPs. They will all maintain their current buildings and patients will retain access to their usual doctor in the same centre.
When approved, the surgeries will become one united practice to improve access and provide additional specialist health services aimed at reducing the need for hospital appointments. The merger will provide added flexibility for patients to access services at any of the seven sites.
The plans demonstrate one of the biggest mergers of GP surgeries in Greater Manchester and is in line with national guidance to deliver primary care at scale.
Doctors say the decision has been taken after careful consideration to help ensure consistent high quality care, secure services for the future and boost the recruitment of clinical and support staff, which at present is heading towards crisis levels across the UK.
Merging practices will also improve health and social care closer to home, attract new talent, create more opportunities for patients to book urgent care appointments, increase out of hours capacity and provide more opportunities for greater staff training and career development.
The practices included in the intended merger are;
Greenmount Medical Centre in Brandlesholme Road
Minden Family Practices in Derby Way, Bury which incorporates three practices, – Yacht, Waves and Anchor
Spring Lane Surgery, Radcliffe
The Uplands Medical Practice, Bury New Rd, Whitefield
Tottington Medical Practice in Market St
A series of surgery information and engagement sessions will take place for patients and staff.
Dr Simon de Vial, from the Yacht Practice in Minden said; “This is a positive move and one we feel is right to ensure future viability and to protect and enhance patient services.
“We know from experience that all the practices involved have like-minded values and share the same vision for patient services. In time, we hope more practices across Bury will join us as we encourage greater involvement. It will generate far greater training and career opportunities for all staff and will provide us with multiple opportunities to work at scale.”
“Merging practices will mean that we can share expertise, reduce the number of locums, and provide extra capacity for patient appointments. It is also about supporting our staff who are increasingly under pressure.”
Dr Wissam El-Jouzi from Tottington Medical Practice said; “Currently, our urgent care capacity is teetering on a knife edge. It only takes a small reduction in GP availability to destabilise the whole system and that creates an unacceptable situation for patients. We are not facing any closures yet, but we know this has happened to many practices all across the country.”
The British Medical Association recently reported 200 practice closures across the UK last year.
Dr El-Jouzi said recruitment of GPs and practice nurses has become increasingly difficult and training and development opportunities have to be provided to attract new clinicians.
He added; “We recently advertised for a new GP and although there were hundreds of viewings, there was only one expression of interest received. General Practice cannot continue like this.”
Merging practices will also increase the ability of the new practice to take on research and develop more care out-of-hospital. It will also enable staff to share their areas of expertise and best practice with a much wider group of clinical and support staff.
Dr Ajay Kotegaonkar from Spring Lane Surgery said; “Merging practices will increase our capacity to see patients, help us learn from other colleagues and develop specialist services like palliative care, diabetes, care of the elderly and urgent care access – all being done to consistent and high quality standards.”
“This is the direction of travel in other parts of the country where practices have merged on a large scale. We see this as a development being driven by local Bury GPs for Bury patients. It will both allow patients to continue the one to one relationship with their own doctor and to access more services.
Subject to appropriate patient and staff engagement and all regulatory approvals, it is anticipated that the merge will be finalised within the next 12 months.
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