Patients back merger of two GP surgeries

Healthwatch Reading successfully argued for the plans to only get the green light once patients had had a chance to discuss the plans.
Photo of Milman Rd Surgery

Patients have backed the merger of two GP practices in south Reading after Healthwatch Reading intervened to make sure their views were taken into account before the move was formally ratified.

A proposal to merge Milman Road Surgery (pictured above) and Kennet Surgery was recommended to members of a local committee of doctors and NHS decision-makers on 8 July. Healthwatch Reading, which is a non-voting member of the committee, said while the plans appeared to have no negative impact on patients, it was concerned that the vote was taking place without full engagement. Milman Road’s patient participation group (PPG) was only getting a chance to meet with their doctors to fully discuss the plans at a meeting scheduled for 9 July, Healthwatch Reading told the committee, the day after the decision was due to be made.

The committee agreed to approve the merger, subject to the outcome of the PPG meeting.  The PPG met the next day online, and unanimously backed the merger once its members had had the chance to put questions to Dr Bu Thava about the plans.

How the merger will affect patients

  • Milman Rd (14,858 patients) and Kennet (5,324) surgeries merge on 1 October 2020
  • The merged GP practice will be known as Milman and Kennet Surgery
  • None of the buildings, on Milman, Cholmeley and Christchurch roads, will close
  • Patients should get a wider choice of clinical staff, appointment times or locations
  • 5 GP partners, 5 salaried GPs, 2 nurse practitioners, 3 paramedic practitioners, 1 practice pharmacist, 3 practice nurses and 2-3 health care assistants
  • Early clinics will run from 7am on two week days, and 8am-12.30pm on Saturdays
  • Evening clinics up to 8pm will run four times a week
  • Changes due to Covid-19, mean more telephone/virtual appointments will be held
  • Patients with complex conditions will be offered longer appointments regularly
  • Savings can be made on the running of the merged GP practice
  • No staff will be made redundant

(Information from paper presented to committee)

Although it backed the plans, Milman Rd’s PPG added that it was unfortunate that Kennet Surgery appeared not to have an active PPG that could also have considered the plans and it was also concerned about the timing of patient involvement.

Milman Road’s PPG has now asked Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group’s primary care commissioning committee (PCCC) to consider how patients would be involved in significant primary care decisions in the future.

The PCCC meets in public every three months to make decisions about GP surgeries in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire.

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