CREDIT: This story was first seen in the Bristol Post
Five GP surgeries in Bedminster and Southville are set to merge later this year to form a super surgery in South Bristol, the Bristol Post reports.
Bedminster Family Practice, Gaywood House Surgery, Malago Surgery, Southville Surgery and the Wedmore Practice will come together to form the Bedminster Medical Group.
The new group is awaiting approval NHS England, and the formality is set to be completed by August.
Once formed, it will serve more than 46,000 patients in the Bedminster and Southville area and have about 32 GPs on roll.
That would make it the biggest surgery in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.
The next closest is Nailsea Family Practice, with 32,000 patients, and the Mendip Vale Medical Practice group, with 22,2000 patients.
It comes after all five surgeries were forced to close its lists at some point over the last 18 months because of burgeoning requests to join.
Plans had been afoot since January 2016, when the surgeries realised they could be working together instead of individually.
Brent Stephen, who will be executive manager of the Bedminster Medical Group, said there should be no drastic changes for patients, except they will have more options.
The GPs will continue to serve the patients already on their register.
But if a patient needs an appointment urgently, they would be given the option to go to another surgery.
All five surgeries are less than a mile apart from each other.
Mr Stephen said: “If a patient is used to going to see certain nurse or clinician, they can continue to do so.
“Most of the changes will be behind the scenes. It will allow us to share resources, and provide appointments in other surgeries if the patient is happy to do that.”
He said the biggest difference would be in urgent care.
“It has been a problem for us,” he admitted.
“But this means we’ll be about to have bigger staff to deal with anything that comes our way. That means we can have advanced nurse practitioners or paramedics, but they’ll always have a GP behind them.
“We have all suffered over the last year and had to close our waiting lists. It was a serious decision, but it was becoming unsafe [to take anymore patients].”
The closures were staggered in the area, and they have since reopened their lists.
The merger will mean less chance of lists closing again, Mr Stephen said.
“I don’t know why, but we had a problem recruiting GPs in previous years. Nobody wanted to come here, and we didn’t understand it,” he said.
“But what we’re saying is here is Bedminster Medical Group – it’s the biggest one in the city – and we can move people around if they want.
“It will give GPs, nurses and the admin team an opportunity to rotate around and get lots of experience. It’ll be a different way of working that a normal surgery can’t provide.”
Once formed, the group will serve about 10 per cent of the city’s population, giving it more clout when asking the NHS for more.
“When you’re a practice having problems and have got 6,000 patients – NHS England has very scarce resources – you’ll find it very hard to do anything meaningful,” he said.
“If you have 46,000 patients on roll, it gives you a louder voice.”