Two GP practices in Bath are set to merge this spring, with plans for an additional practice to join them later in the year following its closure.
From 1st April 2018, Oldfield Surgery and St James’s Surgery will form the Heart of Bath partnership.
In October 2018, it is expected that Number 18 Surgery will also join the partnership before closing its current premises in Oldfield Park.
Once finalised, the plan will be for Number 18 patients and staff to transfer to the Heart of Bath partnership, in a move that is supported by Wessex Local Medical Committee, Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England.
The Heart of Bath partnership will operate from the following GP surgery locations:
- Oldfield Surgery at 45 Upper Oldfield Park, Bath,
- St James’s Surgery at 6-9 Northampton Buildings, Bath,
- Junction Road Surgery (a branch Surgery of St James’s Surgery), 8 Junction Road, Oldfield Park, Bath.
Dr Arun Gadhok, GP Partner at St James’s Surgery said: “Patients of Oldfield Surgery and St James’s won’t see any difference to services in April; they will still contact their practice in the same way and continue to see the same GPs and other staff in the same location.
“Those patients joining the Heart of Bath partnership from Number 18 surgery in October can choose whether they want to be seen at the Oldfield Surgery site, or St James’s Surgery, depending on which is more convenient for them.
“Furthermore, by then we would expect all Heart of Bath patients to be able to choose which premises they are seen at.”
Dr Charles Berrisford, GP Partner at Number 18 said: “We are very sad to announce the closure of Number 18. The practice has had a long history and has established a great relationship with both patients and people who have worked with us.
“After a number of retirements, we have been unable to recruit new GP partners and our NHS income has reduced because of our relatively small patient list size.
“We’ve explored whether we can secure investment in the business but unfortunately the premises are not big enough.”
He added: “We are committed to supporting our patients throughout this period of change and are very excited about the opportunity to work with the Heart of Bath partnership, which will mean our current patients would see familiar faces among the practice teams at the nearby Heart of Bath surgery sites.”
Corinne Edwards, Director of Acute and Primary Care Commissioning at Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The merger will bring many benefits to patients. The Heart of Bath partnership will provide opportunities for even better access to GPs, nurses and other primary care services in years to come, and makes it easier for staff to share examples of best practice to further drive up standards of care.”
“By joining in this way, the practices will also save money and time by sharing back-office functions, leaving more resources available to improve services for patients.”
Dr Gadhok said: “For example we will look at how we can manage demand for same-day appointments better, and how we can use technology more effectively.
“We will become a larger, stronger team, and in time we will be able to offer extended opening hours, and improved services for people with long-term illnesses.”
Councillor Tim Ball (Lib Dem, Twerton), Lib Dem spokesperson on Health and Care, commented: “This shake up of GP surgeries will doubtless raise concerns amongst many patients in Oldfield Park.
“It does sound as though the consolidation could have benefits for patients, but there is also the risk of people being put through unnecessary confusion and anxiety.
“The partnership management must make every effort to keep all patients informed at every stage of the process, recognising that not all patients will have access to online information.
“We recognise that GP practices are under pressure due to increased demand and pressure on finances. This is why the Liberal Democrats have proposed a 1p rise in income tax to be ring-fenced for NHS and social care services, including primary care, mental health and public health.”
The details of the merger and closure of Number 18 Surgery will be published on the St James’s, Oldfield and Number 18 Surgery websites, as well as on posters in each practice location and by letter to patients of Number 18 by Friday 9th February.
Patients of Number 18 surgery have been invited to drop-in sessions at the practice to ask questions and give feedback about the plans.
Number 18 say they would like to reassure patients there is no need to take any action to re-register with another practice at this time.
Staff from Oldfield Surgery, St James’s and Number 18 added that they would like to thank all of their patients and colleagues for their continued support during this time of change.
Any patients currently registered at the three practices who have questions or feedback about the plans should contact the main practice email address:
St James’s Surgery – BSCCG.firstname.lastname@example.org
Oldfield Surgery – email@example.com
Number 18 – BSCCG.firstname.lastname@example.org