Clarkson Surgery in Wisbech is in merger talks with Octagon Medical Practice to try to beat recruitment and finance issues
A Fenland GP surgery is set to merge with a group of other practices in Peterborough and Huntingdon in a bid to beat recruitment and finance issues.
The Clarkson Surgery in DeHavilland Road, Wisbech, announced its intentions to merge with the Octagon Medical Practice at the end of last year and is set to hold two engagement meetings on January 30 and February 5 to explain the move to patients.
Octagon was formed in September 2017 with five practices and currently there are eight surgeries under its umbrella. However, it hopes that number will increase to 12 by the middle of this year.
A spokesman for the Wisbech practice said: “The Clarkson Surgery has always been committed to providing high quality patient care and we are very proud that it is highly regarded as a health provider within the Wisbech area.
“However in recent years the surgery has been under increasing pressure due to rising patient numbers and NHS financial constraints.
“Additionally there is an immense difficulty in recruiting clinical staff, especially doctors. This is a recognised national issue and is even more acute in rural areas.
“With these factors in mind the partners have agreed to work towards a merger with the Octagon Medical Practice.”
She continued: “This merger will provide more stability for the future of our practice.
“More importantly, it will increase the care choices and services available to our patients and allow for more investment in new technologies and methods.
“Also, being part of a larger group makes recruiting staff easier as it will provide more flexibility and greater career opportunity for both clinical and non-clinical staff.”
The spokesman explained the move will also help with financial constraints caused by increasing pressure for the NHS as a whole to be more financially efficient.
She said: “Providing services in secondary care (hospitals) is both more expensive and less convenient for patients, resulting in an increasing transfer of work from secondary to primary care (GPs).
“Collaborative working within a larger practice provides the opportunity to work with commissioners to ensure that our patients receive a wider range of clinical services in the community than we would be able to provide to our patients if we were to remain as a single small practice.”
Some patients have expressed concern at the proposed merger and fear it could cause problems in getting appointments because those from other practices will take up appointments in Wisbech.
However, Octagon Medical says on its website: “Once we have merged, all patients will keep the surgery where they are today. Experience across the NHS where mergers have taken place shows that very few patients take other surgery appointments. We will, however, monitor that situation very closely.”
It adds: “Patients will see no change to the way in which they make appointments. As the practices work together, we will be introducing best practice, and this will mean that patients have more choice in how appointments can be made.”
Octagon also assures patients they will keep their own doctors and says: “It is important that patients who have built a relationship with their GP can still access that GP when an appointment is needed.
“All practices will continue to offer an appointment with a named GP where possible.”
More details can be found on the Clarkson Surgery or Octagon Medicals websites. There are also leaflets available at the surgery.
The Clarkson spokesman concludes: “We are confident this merger will be in the best interests of our patients, our staff and the practice. We thank all our patients for their continued support and look forward to the future.”