Why are the practices separate?
GP practices are provided under contract to NHS England. Currently, there are separate contracts for Hendford Lodge MC and Abbey Manor MP although both are held by the same GP Partnership, Diamond Health Group.
This means contractually we must treat each practice separately so provide the full range of services at each site but only to those patients who are registered at that site.
What are you proposing to do?
We are considering asking NHS England to merge the contracts together so we have one contract that covers the provision of services at both Hendford Lodge MC and Abbey Manor MP.
The majority of our staff already work across both practices, so for example the same GP and Nursing Team provide clinics at both sites.
Why is this helpful to you, the practice?
It will provide us greater flexibility to provide clinical services across both sites, making clinics more efficient and making better use of our staff time.
As we currently hold two contracts for the practices, we often have to do the same thing twice, once for each practice. We also incur additional costs by requiring separate licences etc for various things necessary to the running of both practices.
By maintaining clinics at both sites, particularly at times of staff sickness/absence, this stretches our clinical team and means a less safe service for you. By merging the practice contracts, this enables us to provide a safer service which is more flexible to meet unexpected absence.
What does this mean to me, the patient?
It means that you will have access to a greater range of appointments than currently. We will be able to offer appointments at either site, depending on availability. This means that if you require a blood test, for example, and are registered with Abbey Manor you will be offered an appointment at both sites and a Hendford appointment may be sooner.
Why can’t you do that already?
Due to the terms of the NHS England contracts for practices, we can only see patients who are registered at that practice unless patients register as a Temporary Resident or in an emergency. This means that although an appointment suitable for your needs may be available at the other site, we are not able to offer this without breaching our contract.
Will both practices stay open?
Absolutely, yes. We are not proposing to close either practice. Both practices will continue to offer appointments including GP and Nursing appointments. However, if you prefer to see a particular GP who works at both sites, you will now have the opportunity to see them at both sites.
Over time we will look to see how we can provide the most suitable and efficient service to patients which may result in some appointments being offered at one site only. This will be dependent on the availability of clinical staff and clinical space at both practices.
We want to maintain the individuality of both sites while increasing access and flexibility, and reducing duplication. We know that Hendford Lodge MC is a large town centre practice while Abbey Manor MP is a smaller community-based practice. Both practices will keep their names and current locations.
Will there be any changes that I’ll see then?
Hopefully the only changes you will see will be for the better, through access to more appointments than we can currently offer. We currently have two telephone systems, one for each practice, so we are considering whether to bring this together which may result in one telephone number of both sites. If so, we will publicise the number widely.
I still have concerns about what this will mean for me.
We are happy to discuss our plans with you, as we believe that this will provide a better, more flexible service and with better access to appointments for you.