Alnwick GP practices set to merge this year

Drr Adam Henry, Infirmary Drive practice manager Sophie Jerrom, Bondgate Practice manager Tony Brown and Kim Halll, reception manager at Infirmary Drive.
 Picture by Jane Coltman
Drr Adam Henry, Infirmary Drive practice manager Sophie Jerrom, Bondgate Practice manager Tony Brown and Kim Halll, reception manager at Infirmary Drive. Picture by Jane Coltman

Alnwick’s two GP practices are to merge in a bid to ‘secure the services we offer in the town for generations’.

The Bondgate Practice and Infirmary Drive Medical Group released a statement announcing the plans on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon.

It said: ‘All staff and clinicians will become part of the new practice and a full public consultation will be announced within a fortnight.

‘We believe we will be able to secure, deliver and expand local services for patients across our five sites.’

Speaking to the Gazette, the two practice managers, Tony Brown and Sophie Jerrom, offered further assurances that this move is about being more effective and efficient, which can only be of benefit to patients.

“We just feel the time is right to make this move,” said Tony. “It’s a unanimous decision by the nine GP partners.”

The pair said that the two surgeries will remain, there will be little impact on the Bondgate Practice’s satellite surgeries – in Seahouses, Longhoughton and Embleton – other than better cover, and, perhaps most importantly, no reduction in staff.

Because of this, plus the fact the two practices already use the same systems, the merger should not be too difficult. “NHS England is really keen to drive it forward, as are the staff,” added Tony.

Plus, as Northumberland moves forward under its new Accountable Care Organisation – a national first – there may be opportunities to provide more services in Alnwick.

Dr Adam Henry said: “We have always considered that a merge would help us provide the best possible healthcare to our patients and secure our service for years to come.

“These are very exciting times and we look forward to working with NHS England and Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure the merge is as seamless as possible.”

Dr Chris Wilson added: “We have a unique opportunity to strengthen primary care in Alnwick and our surrounding areas.

“Initially, patients will see little change as we go through the administrative and financial processes, but we will continue to develop services together to provide the best healthcare we can for our patients.

“All patients will have a chance to comment on the merge when the public consultation is launched later in February.”

Reception manager, Kim Hall, said: “The staff from both practices feel this will be an extremely positive move and will enable us to share best practices as the new team amalgamates.”

She added: “The patients will still be seen in the buildings they are currently, but moving forward we may centralise some of our management of patients with long-term conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, into one area of one of the current buildings. This will help us to direct patients to the correct building for any appointment.”