New provider of Hartlepool GP practices announced

The Wynyard Road Primary Care Centre
The Wynyard Road Primary Care Centre

A Hartlepool health practice is set to get even larger as it is to take over two medical centres.

The McKenzie Group Practice, which runs McKenzie House, Throston Medical Centre, and Victoria Medical Practice, has been announced as the new provider for Wynyard Road Primary Care Centre and Hartfields Medical Practice.

It followed a search by local health commissioners following a review of the contracts used by Wynyard Road, Hartfields and The Fens medical practices.

The Fens practice is to close, with its 2,700 patients given the option of transferring to the new provider or looking for a new GP.

The switchover from the previous provider will be July 1. Two supervisors and a nurse from the new practices are expected to be made redundant.

Some worries surrounding the change were raised by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit and Governance Committee.

Chairman Councillor Ray Martin-Wells expressed concerns over one group being responsible for so many patients in the town, some 27,000.

But Dr Carl Parker, of the McKenzie Group Practice, said larger practices were more sustainable.

He said: “Ours is a model where all staff work over all of the sites, which gives us more resilience.

“Our view is to be able to be sustainable, practices need to be larger.

“This has enabled us to produce a lot of efficiencies and have a very solid management structure and more capacity to care for patients.

“We have a vast amount of nurse practitioners, practice nurses and health care assistants.”

Karen Hawkins, director of commissioning for Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group, said she was pleased they had been able to secure McKenzie Group as the new provider in spite of earlier concerns around lower rates of pay than under the two surgeries’ previous contracts.

She said of the takeover: “It is a really exciting opportunity that under the national rules payment mechanism we have been able to attract a large practice to be able to deliver a service from these two sites.

“It will offer real benefits in terms of the services that can be delivered from there.”

The Audit and Governance Committee was also told that the Fens, Wynyard Road and Hartfields computer systems – which hold patients’ notes and medical records – cannot be merged on to one system until November.

Dr Parker said the only impact for patients will be that they will not be able to book appointments online.

Coun Martin-Wells said: “Hopefully, the transition will be smooth and patients won’t be affected.”