Cheviot Medical Group and Glendale Surgery in Wooler have applied to NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS England to merge into a single practice. The practices already work closely in the same building at Cheviot Primary Care Centre to deliver services, having moved in together over 15 years ago.
Since the summer of 2021, Cheviot Medical Group has had a GP on long-term sick leave and Glendale Surgery has been providing active support. There was already a lot of cross-practice work going on but this has increased further still to ensure patients remain cared for. The proposed merger will formalise this relationship and embed the cooperative approach that has been developing over the years but accelerated over the past year.
The application will be reviewed by the CCG and NHS England in early April 2022 with a decision expected by the end of June 2022.
Patients and residents are now being asked to share their views on the proposed merger. This can be done in the following ways:
- Online: Complete thisonline feedback form
- In the practices: please ask at reception for a feedback form. This can be filled out anonymously if you wish – you do not need to give any personal information if you choose not to.
- By email: Glendale Surgery: firstname.lastname@example.org or Cheviot Medical Group: Admin-A84032@nhs.net
- By letter: Write to your practice and mark it for the attention of the Merger Management Team. Glendale Surgery or Cheviot Medical Group, Cheviot Primary Care Centre, Padgepool Place, Wooler NE71 6BL.
- By telephone: Glendale Surgery: 01668 281740 Cheviot Medical Group: 01668 281575.
- Public meeting: A public meeting will be held in conjunction with Wooler Parish Council and the local County Councillor – details to follow shortly.
- Contact us here at Healthwatch Northumberland to give your views on the proposal.
Please note that the practices are also, at the same time, proposing to form an administrative union with two other local practices to form a partnership called Lindisfarne Health. Since the administrative changes involved with Lindisfarne Health will not affect patients, the practices not asking for feedback on this, only on the proposed merging of the two Wooler practices. More information is available from the surgeries.
Frequently Asked Questions and answers from the Wooler practices
Why merge the practices?
The NHS is changing and NHS England is asking practices to work together across larger patient populations. We want to ensure that our patients continue to receive high quality medical care.
This merger will offer many benefits. The current practices use the same clinical computer system, and in merging, we will be able to access patient electronic records through a single system and log in, which will make it easier for our GPs and nurses to view patient information. We are also able to bring together our management and support teams for more efficiency.
Bringing together our practices in this way means we can share our pool of knowledge and skills. Particularly as we know people often have multiple needs.
There is a national shortage of GPs and practice nurses and a merged practice will be better able to recruit and retain the doctors and nurses we need. The workload of a current GP Practice has grown in recent years. We want to make sure that clinical time is spent more in patient care not in paperwork.
The practices are also part of the Well Up North Primary Care Network working with key local partners to expand the services we can offer every patient. This is to provide an integrated care system for the benefit of our local communities. This means that we can provide more seamless, joined up patient care. We want to remove the barriers to accessing services and address current challenges.
Recent changes in Cheviot mean this is an opportunity to secure stronger practice services in Wooler going forward and to adapt to any changes that may arise in the future with one larger primary health care team operating from the same building you access your services from now.
What will this mean to me?
Patients will not see any real change. You will be able to access the same services at the same place as you do now. Over time we may be able to offer more specialist clinics and services as we will have access to a wider healthcare team.
What will the new practice be called?
The name of the merged practice will be Wooler Health.
Will I be able to see my usual doctor or nurse?
Yes. Continuity of care is valued by us and our patients. Our clinical staff will remain but form a larger single team in future. You will have more choice not less.
I have a long-term health problem – how will this affect my care?
Every effort will be made to ensure that you continue to see your preferred clinicians for ongoing care. If you usually attend a clinic for diabetes or asthma for example, then this will continue as normal.
Will there be any change to the service we receive from community services such as district nurses, midwives or health visitors?
No. The community teams will continue to work with the merged practice as usual to provide care to patients. Having only one practice to coordinate with will help them in fact.
Will the new merged practice have access to my medical records?
Yes, the two existing practices’ clinical records system will be combined into a single system so that our team will be able to access your records when necessary for your care. Your records will be handled with the same high level of attention to confidentiality.
Will your opening hours change?
The opening hours at our practices will remain the same. We are not planning to alter our services as a result of this merger. Like all practices, we may vary some opening hours because of patient demand and clinical resources from time to time but the merger itself will not have any effect.
Booking appointments – will I see any changes?
You will still be able to book an appointment by the same existing methods.
We will continue to develop our navigation team who will help guide you to the most appropriate appointment for your needs, which is another benefit for all our patients from this merger.
We are keeping our appointment system under review due to Covid-19. We hope to be able to offer you some alternatives to same day access in future. For now, we continue to follow the national rules in having a telephone or online-first appointment system and the facility to see patients face to face should you need this.
Prescriptions – how will these be affected?
There should be no change to the way in which you order or receive your prescriptions. If you order your prescriptions online then we may need to update your details. Further information will be given, and we will contact you if this is the case. Our dispensaries will continue as they are.
Will there be a new Patient Participation Group?
A Patient Participation Group (PPG) is a group of patients, carers and GP practice staff who meet to discuss practice issues and patient experience to help develop and improve services. PPGs play a key role in helping patients get the best out of their GP surgery.
Our existing PPGs had already agreed to merge to form a single group representing the patients of both practices. With this change, it will simply represent the patients of the single merged practice in future instead.
If you would like to find out more about the PPG or to get involved, please contact us via our existing practice contact details as above.
What is the timescale envisaged for the merger?
We plan to submit a formal application to the CCG and NHS England at the beginning of April. If we are successful, we are hoping to merge by the start of July 2022.