Plan to merge two Hartlepool GP practices to safeguard smaller centre

Hartlepool Health Centre where the Victoria Medical Practice is based.
Hartlepool Health Centre where the Victoria Medical Practice is based.

Patients of a Hartlepool medical practice are set to gain access to a host of improved services as part of a planned merger with a larger group.

The smaller Victoria Medical Practice is planned to become part of the bigger McKenzie Group Practice.

We definitely think it is a very positive move for patients, we think it’s a positive move for the two practices

Dr Carl Parker

Doctors say it will ensure the stability of the Victoria Road practice and open the door to a wide range of health services.

Managers for the practices are to submit an application to local NHS bosses and hope to complete the merger by the beginning of October.

It was given the blessing of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit and Governance Committee.

Stephanie Raper, practice manager on behalf of the two practices, said: “The demands of registration with the Care Quality Commission, responding to rapidly changing contractual requirements and the ever increasing expectations placed on primary care would struggle to be met by small practices working alone.

“We believe this merger will safeguard the patients of Victoria. We are committed to keeping all that is best and most cherished about the family doctor whilst maximising benefits found from working in a larger organisation.”

Dr Carl Parker, of the McKenzie group, which also includes Throston Medical Centre, said the Victoria practice was much smaller at around 3,300 patients.

Dr Parker said: “We definitely think it is a very positive move for patients, we think it’s a positive move for the two practices.

“It is a single handed practice and therefore I know there have been some issues over the years about recruiting further GPs.

“One of the big problems around this is stability of that practice and ongoing service delivery from the health centre for that group of patients.

“We are hoping also to make a lot more services available within that practice. “Being a large practice, McKenzie Group has been able to diversify the kind of practitioners available to patients so not only GPs also a whole range of prescribing nurse practitioners, respiratory nurse specialists but also full time pharmacist all enhancing the quality, and we intend very much to have these same services available at the Victoria premises as well.”

Dr Parker said patients would not see any difference and no redundancies were planned.

He added the plans fitted in with the NHS Forward Plan for moves towards larger GP practices.

Ms Raper added they were also looking at extending hours at the Victoria practice with an additional late evening or early morning. Patients of both practices have also been asked for their views.