Two of the largest practices in Plymouth have unveiled plans to merge later this year, serving 60,000 patients across the region.
Beacon Medical Group and Ocean Health have partnered up and believe it marks a ‘bright future for primary care’ in and around Plymouth.
The GP partners will serve patients within the communities of Plympton, Chaddlewood, St Budeaux, Mannamead, Efford and Ivybridge.
This size of the GP practice is new to the NHS and the GPs in charge are convinced that working at a larger scale will offer real benefits for patients.
The practices are hoping to combine by 1 July. A key part of finalising details for the merger is the involvement of patients in discussing the proposals and getting feedback.
Dr Christina Chetcuti, a GP partner at Ocean Health, said: ‘We are really excited at the prospect of joining together with GPs at the Beacon Medical Group. We have done a lot to offer new services to our patients, with new professionals such as pharmacists and paramedics joining our team being really successful.
‘But our patients will recognise that we have struggled to recruit enough GPs so that we can offer appointments as quickly as our patients should be able to see us or so that they can consistently see the same doctor.
‘One of the key aims for this merger is to improve the chances of recruiting GPs to an area of Plymouth that has traditionally struggled to attract people to apply here.’
Dr Jonathan Cope, managing partner at the Beacon Medical Group, who was recently named ‘General Practitioner of the Year’ by Managment in Practice’s sister publication Pulse, said: ‘We’ve really noticed a big difference in what we are able to offer to patients as we have grown, particularly that our average waiting time for a GP appointment has fallen from 14 days to eight days.
‘We have many new services, new clinicians and are helping to support people locally without having difficult trips to hospital. We believe in practices serving local communities and scale gives us the opportunity to both improve core GP services and to develop services that can only be run for larger numbers.
‘We are delighted that over the last couple of weeks we have recruited four new GPs – a level we have never managed before and this will enable us to improve access across the whole of the new practice.’