GP practices in Corby, Kettering, Oundle and Stamford are to merge, creating the largest single GP practice in the NHS.
St Mary’s Medical Centre, Sheepmarket Surgery and Little Surgery in Stamford and Oundle Medical Practice are to merge with Lakeside Healthcare, which operates surgeries in Corby, Kettering and Brigstock.
The ‘super-practice’ will serve the healthcare needs of more than 100,000 patients across Northamptonshire, Rutland, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.
The merger creates a new model of primary care organisation that health bosses say is better able to thrive in the times ahead and a model that the Government is supporting.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “This is a pivotal moment for the NHS and supports the Government’s long-term plan to deliver more joined-up, proactive, personalised care for our most vulnerable.
“By integrating services and moving more care closer to people’s homes, we can ensure efficient spending and prevent unnecessary trips to hospital for the frail elderly and people with long-term conditions.”
Dr Mike Richardson, Partner of Oundle Medical Practice, said: “Being part of a much bigger practice means that we shall be able to attract, recruit and retain the very best doctors and healthcare professionals to our area because we shall be able to offer them a varied and exciting career.
“This is great news for our patients because elsewhere in our county and across the country there are growing numbers of unfilled GP vacancies.”
Prof Robert Harris, partner of Lakeside Healthcare, Corby said: “We want to deliver the very best out-of-hospital care for our patients.
“By bringing together these excellent practices we are uniquely positioned as the largest practice in the NHS, to build a very different type of GP service – one that can cater for the increasingly complex needs of our most vulnerable patients. This is a very good thing.”
Lakeside Healthcare had already been appointed as one of 14 ‘Multispecialty Community Provider Vanguards’ across the country by NHS England and the Government to develop ‘New Models of Care’.
Those practices joining with Lakeside will similarly benefit from this national status and the support that comes with the responsibility, say bosses.
In addition, the practice which covers Rothwell and Desborough is also part of the greater Lakeside Vanguard Programme and serves an additional population in excess of 20,000 patients.
Lakeside Healthcare, as the super-practice is branded, will support the specialist hospitals in the area, including University Hospitals of Leicester and Peterborough & Stamford Hospital as well as Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals.
Lakeside Healthcare also has a growing role in the teaching and training of medical students in the region in conjunction with University of Leicester Medical School and de Montfort University.
Ultimately, the expanded organisation will provide a service that will meet the health and care needs of 300,000 patients across the East Midlands.
Lakeside Healthcare stresses that no existing clinics or premises will be closed and that with more finance available, there are plans for additional investment in premises, staff and technology and more home visiting services for the housebound, all of which will benefit patients going forwards.
The present patient numbers of each practice are 47,876 in Lakeside, Corby; 10,214 in Lakeside, Kettering; 10,821 in Oundle and 20,381 in Rothwell and Desborough.