Three Ipswich GP surgeries set to merge into practice with 30,000 patients
- Credit: Archant
A trio of Ipswich GP surgeries are set to merge - creating a new medical practice with nearly 30,000 patients.
Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is set to discuss the proposed merger of the Chesterfield Drive Practice, Norwich Road Surgery and Deben Road Surgery.
The surgeries are all within a mile of each other in the north-west of the town and have already been working together since April 2020, as they are all part of the Suffolk Primary Care group.
As of January this year, Chesterfield Road Practice had 12,408 patients, Norwich Road Surgery had 9,813 and Deben Road had 7,291 - meaning the new surgery would have 29,512 patients on its books if approved.
That would make it Ipswich and East Suffolk's largest GP practice - even bigger than the Two Rivers Medical Centre, which has 26,700 patients.
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A report produced ahead of a CCG primary care commissioning meeting on Tuesday said the merger would mean a "range of clinical expertise not previously available in all three practices", such as contraception, women’s health areas, minor surgery, diabetes care and pain management.
The application signed by Norwich Road senior partner Dr Susan Smith, Chesterfield Road senior partner Dr Eunice Ifionu and Paul Brown, chief executive of Suffolk Primary Care, said: "Merging the three practices will mean that we can work together at a more local level, sharing our resources and developing new and more efficient ways of working.
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"By consolidating our clinical and non-clinical staff resources we will have a wider pool of trained staff to provide support and cover.
"The consistency of service will benefit patients and reduce any adverse effect of staff shortages.
"Merging will also give us the resilience and robustness we need to manage the ever-increasing challenges that we face in general practice, and will help with the attraction of new staff when the need for recruitment arises."
A public consultation carried out with affected patients between December 4 and January 8 found 64% of patients gave positive responses about the merger.
However, some concerns were raised about being able to book appointments and contacting the proposed new surgery by telephone.
The surgeries say in response that they plan to increase GP capacity by 10 sessions per week as part of the move.
Care navigator teams will be in place at Norwich Road and Chesterfield Drive to direct incoming calls.
An item on Suffolk Primary Care's website about the proposed move added: "We want you to know that we are not taking this action lightly and we have considered the potential implications and impact on our patients carefully.
"The three practices are all located within north-west Ipswich, within a mile of each other and broadly cover the same catchment area."
It said the move was designed to "ensure that you, our patients continue to receive the high level of care that you deserve".