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GP practice mergers sponsored with £2m Government funding injection

The Welsh Government has approved more than £2m of funding for transforming two existing practices in new integrated health centres.

Both projects – one in Fishguard and one in Tonypandy – will support the merger of existing practices and enable a wider range of community services to be made available.

It is part of promised funding for 19 projects to improve primary care infrastructure which were announced in at the end of 2017.

A £2.4m investment for a new health centre in Aberaeron was confirmed early this year.

The latest approved projects include £1.7m to redevelop Tonypandy Health Centre and support the merger of two practices into larger premises.

It follows an announcement of £646,000 to refurbish Fishguard Health Centre which will improve existing premises at Fishguard GP practice and also enable a merger with the health-board run Goodwick Surgery to help alleviate staff recruitment problems.

The new health centre will also host a district nursing service, anticoagulant clinics which are currently run at the hospital, and space for midwifery, physiotherapy, and community psychiatric services.

In all the Government has promised £68m investment in integrated health and care centres across Wales so patients can be treated closer to home.

Jill Paterson, director of primary care, community and long term care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said she was delighted with the funding announcement for Fishguard.

‘This vital work will enable us to strengthen primary care services in the area and improve the Health Centre’s estate, as well as providing joint staffing opportunities.

‘Patients will have less need to travel to Withybush General Hospital for anti-coagulant clinics as we will be able to provide direct access at the Health Centre, whilst there will also be improved accommodation for a range of community services including physiotherapy, health visiting, district nursing, a heart failure nurse, midwifery, podiatry, community psychiatric nurse, audiology, the leg ulcer service and diabetic retinopathy service.’

Alan Lawrie, director of primary, community and mental health for Cwm Taf University Health Board, said the funding for Tonypandy Health Centre meant a wider integrated multidisciplinary team can be accommodated.

‘It will provide the GPs, staff and patients with a new improved primary care environment, which will allow for enhanced services for the population,’ he said.

Dr Peter Horvath-Howard, medical secretary of Dyfed Powys LMC said the funding would allow a much needed upgrade for the Fishguard Health Centre and was a ‘key component’ of the practice mergers going ahead.

‘The Dyfed Powys LMC has supported the Fishguard practice in its discussion about the merger of the two practices to improve the sustainability of general practice in the area.

‘Like much of rural west Wales this area has faced recruitment and retention issues and this development makes the area more attractive to GPs and other practice staff.’