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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Largest GP practice in the country set to cover 100,000 patients

Four GP surgeries are merging with an existing super-practice to create a 62-partner practice described as ‘the largest in the NHS’.

The giant East Midlands practice is expected to go live in the New Year, when St Mary’s Medical Centre, Sheepmarket Surgery and Little Surgery in Stamford and Oundle Medical Practice formally combines with 30-partner Lakeside Healthcare, which operates surgeries in Corby, Kettering and Brigstock already.

Their combined list will span over 100,000 patients but may not be last merger for Lakeside Healthcare, which wants to expand to cover 300,000 patients eventually.

The new super-practice is separate from another venture in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield, where practices are in talks of forming a super-partnership with ‘nearly 200’ partners.

The Lakeside Healthcare practice is one of NHS England’s ‘new models of care’ vanguard pilots under NHS England’s Five-Year Forward View, which will provide secondary care services as well as standard GP services.

Upon becoming a vanguard, Lakeside Healthcare said it will provide ‘extended primary care services’ to most patients, particularly focusing on services to the most vulnerable 7% of patients who are ‘intensive users’ of healthcare services, such as in-depth consultations and enhanced continuity of care.

It is working together with local hospitals and local authorities but is also planning to employ its own consultants in some specialties.

New services it is rolling out include community and hospital urgent care, an ambulatory care service to reduce pressure on hospitals, long-term conditions management for vulnerable patients - including short-stay community care beds - as well as a number of outpatient services such as dermatology, ophthalmology, MSK, geriatric medicine and mother and baby services.

It said none of the practices it is merging with was at risk of closure and that it now plans additional investment in premises, staff and technology as well as more homevisiting services.

Professor Robert Harris, a partner at Lakeside Healthcare based in Corby said: ‘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.’

Practices joining the super-practice said they were hoping to increase services on offer to patients as well as making their practices a more interesting choice for GPs to come and work.

Dr Mike Richardson, partner at 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.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt also commented, saying: ‘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.’

This is the latest move towards the consolidation of providers under the vanguard pilots, with Pulse reporting earlier this week of up to five GP practices hoping to merge into their local community hospital after suffering recruitment problems.

 

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Readers' comments (39)

  • This is the end of General Practice as we know it. While I don't blame those involved, they must acknowledge they have been skilfully herded into a position where this makes sense. Thus the calf is fattened for slaughter. 100,000 patients, a turnover in region of 25M plus, ripe for the picking by the chaps in red braces. Hold onto your hats, everybody. I wonder what Gladys and Mabel, who've seen "nice Dr Smith" for 25 years will make of it all.

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  • Good on them. GP's need to wake up and understand that most of them are being trampled all over because this is what happens to small businesses in general.

    I don't see a practice with a 100k list size not being paid due respect.

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  • General Practice as it stands is unsustainable, this merger will give GP Surgeries the economies of scale to improve services for their patients.

    Patients will only benefit....

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  • How do decisions get made in these organisations? The large, non-flat hierachy troubles me. We are very agile - I can make a decision and 20 minutes later the organisation is doing it. Do 'normal' partners feel away form the decision making action. Anybody from Corby want to comment on that.

    Out of interest are average earnings increasing for the GP Partners - that would be an incentive for more of these to happen.

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  • A trussed up turkey ready for United Health.

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  • Most doctors chose general practice because of the increased autonomy that it used to allow and being able to develop long-term working relationships with families.

    GP practices have developed their own ways of working in terms of consultations, looking at results investigations and letters and of course acting on QoF, LES, DES etc

    Large organisation such as this can only really function when there is a common way of working. So all of the respective GPs will go through a very difficult learning curve when Millie will have to change their habits.

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  • I think all of the practices in the country should merge.

    We could then have some kind of nationalised health service, although I'm not sure what we could call it.

    That way, there would have to only be one set of contracts, no internal market (because it's only one practice), no benchmarking for referrals or medications (because it's only one practice) and no patchy healthcare provision (because it's only one practice).

    Anyone want to sign up?

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  • I hope their patients are keener on the idea than those at some of the other super practices where the reviews are scathing and the score 2/5
    Predictably, can't get through, resent triage, can't be available for call back as a teacher, service much worse than before, no continuity.......
    Look up nhs choices for other big practices....

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  • more detail needed.sounds like just federating.are the existing sites still to be used, who owns the buildings, who takes on others liabilities etc.Mr Hunt goes on and on about care being near to peoples homes whilst destroying small previously sustainable practices and replacing with hubs a greater distance away.

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  • 9:11 - absolute truth and nothing but the truth. Wonder whether they plan to register as a limited company as our local alliance.

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