Two GP surgeries in Lancing and Sompting have combined into a single surgery in a strategy staff hope will help them better face pressures and provide a range of support to patients.
The Ball Tree Surgery in Western Road, Sompting, and Kingfisher Practice in Culver Road, Lancing, will both remain open – but will work together as one surgery.
Dr Schofield from Ball Tree Surgery said: “GP practices locally, and nationally, are under pressure, and it is increasingly difficult to manage the challenges, especially recruitment, when we are trying to appoint, and keep staff, in our own individual practices.
“We wanted to make sure that local patients did not lose a surgery and so after a lot of thought decided to come together, share our skills, and work as part of a bigger team to support all of our patients.
“We know this isn’t going to solve all of the challenges overnight and there will be a period of settling in as we get both practices working to the same system, but are working to keep disruption to a minimum.
“We are keeping both sites open and patients will continue to go to their normal surgery site; the phone numbers will stay the same for now; and your regular GPs and nurses will remain part of the larger practice team.
“We ask that patients work with us: make sure we have your latest telephone number and email address, if you have booked an appointment and you don’t need it, tell us so we can re-allocate it, and especially at this time of year, book your flu jab or let us know if you don’t want it.
“This winter will be very busy for the whole NHS, please use our services wisely to allow us to provide the best care for those who are most unwell.
“All of these little things can help us as we get the two practices working together as one.
“If anyone has any questions or concerns we would encourage them to speak to a member of the practice team.”
Patients previously registered at Kingfisher’s Practice are being asked to re-register for online services from the middle of October.
Patients are also asked to sign up to EPS paperless prescriptions following the merger – which they can do at their pharmacy.
Dr Jeremy Mayhew, Clinical Lead for Primary Care Commissioning at NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We have been working closely with both GP practices and know they have been working hard to keep any impact on their patients from the merger to a minimum.
“Small GP practices that work in isolation can face greater challenges in delivering the necessary range of services for their patients, for example when it comes to recruitment and providing extended hours.
“GP practices across Coastal West Sussex are having to look at different ways of working to make sure they can provide high levels of patient care now and for the future.
“By coming together the larger Ball Tree Surgery will be able to tackle these challenges, sharing clinical expertise and workforce, and provide a wider range of services for their patients.
“We wish them all the very best.”
Find out more about the merger here.