The CCG’s Primary Care Commissioning Committee has approved changes relating to two GP practices in Gloucester.

The practices, College Yard and Highnam Surgery and Cheltenham Road Surgery, had held discussions and developed proposals for a merger and carried out a consultation with patients which ended in August.

They proposed the changes with a view to ‘creating stronger, more resilient GP services for their patients into the future’.

The merger will bring a number of benefits to patients, including a wider range of skills and expertise in the practice, an increased number of services and a greater choice of appointments.

It will offer more secure staffing levels for the longer term and enable the practice team to use resources more flexibly to meet patient needs.

Looking ahead to how services would be provided in the future should the merger go ahead, the practices also felt it was not practical to manage and staff three surgery sites.

After considerable thought, they proposed that services would no longer be offered from the College Yard site with the Highnam Surgery building and the Cheltenham Road Surgery building remaining open.

The merger of the practices will come into effect from April 2018 and the closure of the College Yard Surgery building will happen by April 2019, allowing time for a smooth transition for patients.

A new, combined practice boundary will be drawn to include all of the areas covered by the current practices, with patients attending the site which suits them best.

The practices recognise that for some patients travel times to the surgery buildings will be longer, whilst for others they will be the same or shorter.

The practices will now work to identify vulnerable patients and consider ways of providing community advice and support before the closure of College Yard Surgery building happens.

Patients registered with College Yard and Highnam Surgery will remain on the merged practice’s patient list and new patients in the area around the College Yard site can continue to register with that surgery.

Director of Primary Care at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Helen Goodey said:

“The Committee considered this application very carefully and agreed that these changes were needed to secure the future of the College Yard and Highnam Practice.

They also agreed that the changes would provide a number of benefits to patients registered with both current practices including improved staffing levels, greater choice of appointments and potential for a greater range of services.

However, the Committee acknowledged some concerns raised during the consultation regarding the closure of the College Yard surgery building and access to services for vulnerable patients. The practices will work to support these patients through the changes.”

Dr Helen Miller, Senior Partner at College Yard and Highnam Surgery said:

“We welcome the decision reached by the Committee. During our discussions with Cheltenham Road Surgery, it became very clear that the two practices shared the same approach to patient care.

We feel these changes will enable the GPs and members of the Practice Team to offer a better service to all our patients. However, we are mindful of the concerns raised during the consultation and will do everything possible to support and work with our patients prior to the changes. We want them to know that their care is extremely important to us.”

Dr Liam Stanbury, Partner at Cheltenham Road Surgery, said:

“Our priority is to ensure that the practices have a sustainable future and can provide the best possible care for patients going forward.

The same doctors, practice nurses and administration staff will be part of the new team.

We will now work hard to ensure a smooth and seamless transition for patients.”

The practices will work closely with NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Practice Patient Participation Groups over the coming months to plan for the changes.