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Merger Update: New FAQs and Monday’s event in Gosforth

Thank you to the patients who came along to our drop-in event at Jesmond Library this week and to those who have shared their views on the proposed merger of GMMC and JHP.


Next Patient Drop-in Event

On Monday, 11th December, Partners from both practices will be at the Trinity Centre in Gosforth.

Patients from both practices are welcome to drop by between 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm to find out more about the proposed merger and ask any questions they have.

If you can’t make it along on Monday, don’t worry; we’ll be back at Trinity for another drop-in on Saturday 6th January.

Monday 11th DecemberSaturday 6th January
6.30 pm to 8.30 pm12.30 pm to 3.00 pm
Trinity CentreTrinity Centre
High Street
Gosforth
NE3 4AG
High Street
Gosforth
NE3 4AG

New FAQs

Based on patient feedback so far, we have written a new set of Frequently Asked Questions. We hope these clear up any lingering worries about having to travel from Gosforth to Jesmond, or vice versa, or any misconceptions about other aspects of the proposed merger.

No. We do not want nor anticipate significant staff changes. All staff at both practices perform vital roles, and reducing staff numbers is not an aim of this merger.

There is a recruitment crisis in General Practice, where the entire system is struggling to recruit and retain staff. We are working hard on developing a model that works across the larger patient population. In recent years, JHP has been very successful at recruiting staff, and our intention is to ensure we have appropriate staffing. Recruitment for GPs to replace the retiring Doctors’ clinical work is already taking place.

No. GMMC currently have 8 GPs, of whom three are partners. Recruitment to fill Dr Taylor and Dr McClelland’s clinical work is already taking place.

We are still developing the model of care we are hoping to use across the merged practices. Our current thinking is that ‘Jesmond’ and ‘Gosforth’ will operate semi-independently on a clinical level. Patients will eventually be registered at the ‘bigger’ practice but will be able to choose to be seen at their ‘chosen’ site for routine care. 

There may be some new services we develop that operate across both ‘locations’, and there may be times when a patient might prioritise being seen sooner and choose to travel between Jesmond/Gosforth where they feel it's appropriate.

We are aiming to have similar levels of staffing across sites long term so patients will not be disadvantaged having their ‘chosen’ site as Jesmond or Gosforth.

There is already an existing service provided by our Primary Care Network (PCN) that offers additional appointments for acute issues, and all practices in Gosforth and Jesmond can access this service for their patients. 

At times when JHP or GMMC do not have the capacity to see you face-to-face that day, you may be offered an appointment at our Same Day Access (SDA) service, which is based at JHP’s 200 Osborne Road.

These are additional appointments provided by our PCN that give extra capacity to practices when patients need to be seen that day. Patients do not have to accept an SDA appointment, but it may mean waiting longer to be seen at their preferred location.

We will aim to minimise this and look at maintaining continuity in both our clinical and non-clinical teams.

We imagine that staff will have a regular base that they work from, There will be some movement as the teams integrate and we respond to patient demand. 

We also need to consider staff preferences, as the issues of travel, parking and public transport that affect patients also apply to staff.

We appreciate this is an area of concern for patients, and we will always do our best to accommodate your requests.

As mentioned in our first FAQS, staff teams change naturally, which means that always seeing the same Doctor, Nurse, or another member of staff isn’t possible.

That said, as noted in the answers above, we intend for patients to continue to be seen in their preferred location - Gosforth or Jesmond - and for our teams to be predominantly based in one location or another.

We understand when you are unwell you want a resolution quickly, and that is our priority also. 

 The two practices currently operate different systems. 

At JHP, there is the digital-first askmyGP system. This allows patients to consult directly with a GP of their choice by sending a secure message and choosing how they want a response (messages or calls).

In lots of cases, issues can be resolved without a face-to-face appointment, which means that when you do need to be seen in person, it is very often done that day.

On average, patients get a first response in under 16 minutes and a resolution within three and a half hours.

93% of JHP patients rate the service as good or very good.

At GMMC, there is the more traditional method of phoning to book an appointment

No changes will be made to either of these systems before the merger officially happens, and any possible changes afterwards will only be made after careful consideration and will, of course, be communicated with patients well in advance.

As mentioned, NHS England has said all GP practices must adopt a ‘modern way‘ of working, like JHP’s askmyGP, in the next 18 months. No decisions have been made on what this will look like for the new combined practice.

Regarding getting quick resolutions to patients’ issues, it’s important to note that, as well as our clinical teams, both practices have access to the Same Day Access clinics and Home Visits service provided by our Primary Care Network, which boosts our capacity to see patients quickly.

askmyGP system is a digital-first system that allows patients to consult directly with a GP of their choice by sending a secure message and choosing how they want a response (messages or calls).

In lots of cases, issues can be resolved without a face-to-face appointment, which means that when you do need to be seen in person, it is very often done that day.

On average, patients get a first response in under 16 minutes and a resolution within three and a half hours.

93% of patients rate the service as good or very good.

Many of us are aware that General practice is in crisis. We are constantly being asked to ‘do more with less’:

  • General Practice has not seen its funding grow to meet the inflationary pressures on costs we have all seen in recent years (our income per patient is 20% lower than in 2018 in real terms) 
  • Despite this relative decrease in funding, our patients' needs are increasing:
    • There is an increased demand for appointments (a 10-15% increase in activity pre vs post COVID)
    • Increasingly complex care, historically managed in hospitals, is now managed in the community 
    • The number of patients living with multiple medical problems is predicted to rise dramatically over the coming years. 
  • There is currently a ‘crisis’ in recruitment and retention in General Practice. Current data would suggest there are 2,200 fewer GPs working in the NHS than ten years ago, and nearly a third of nurses working in General Practice are within ten years of retirement.

A merger doesn’t radically change any of these issues.  However, both in Newcastle and elsewhere, practices have seen merging as one way of managing some of these challenges - there are almost 500 fewer Practices in England than ten years ago. 

The economies of scale that come with a bigger practice allow us to recruit individuals with specialist skills and interests that would not be possible in smaller settings.

It allows us to be more resilient to peaks in demand and capacity. It also allows us some economy of scale around the purchase of supplies and utility contracts, and any savings allow us to take one step forward in bridging the gap between our existing funding and increasing workloads and costs.

No.

We have had a small number of highly personal and strongly worded comments suggesting the main motivation behind this merger is “profit” and to boost Partners’ income at the expense of patient care.

We want to be absolutely, categorically clear that this is not any part of our motivation or the values with which either practice is run.

Both practices currently run with higher than national average GP to Patient ratios and deliver the standard of care they do because patient care is central to every decision we make. 

GP Practices are run by Partners who effectively hold the responsibility for running the practice and delivering care for patients.

Recent years have seen an increasing number of GP Partners decide they can no longer continue in that role and hand back their contract.

This has the potential to impact patient care significantly. At GMMC, two Partners are retiring, and the best way to ensure that GMMC remains sustainable in the future is to merge with JHP to create a larger leadership group to lead the Practice(s).

In fact, the merger process, as required by NHS England, is not financially supported, meaning that the costs of engaging and consulting with patients and managing the process of bringing the practices together are borne by the partnerships.

The full FAQs can be found in our original announcement.

Have Your Say

Patients can share their views on the merger by completing the online form below.

If you prefer, you can complete a feedback form on paper in any of our 4 locations and place it in the collection box, or return it by post to:

Merger Feedback
Jesmond Health Partnership
17 Osborne Road
Jesmond
NE2 2AH

Patients and stakeholders have until 19th January 2024 to participate, with submissions forming part of our merger application to North East and North Cumbria ICB.