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GP practices ponder giant network in response to retirements



Eleven GP practices may start joint working so that patients unable to book an appointment at their usual practice will be referred to a less busy surgery in a different part of town.

The proposal is in response to GP shortages in the Gosport region, near Portsmouth, exacerbated by upcoming retirements of a number of doctors.

Patients at the 11 practices will be consulted on the plans via an online survey, which will ask whether they are comfortable with records being shared across the practices. It will also ask whether patients need longer opening hours and how difficult they find it to get appointments.

The practices are planning to deliver some services co-operatively. They are supported by Fareham and Gosport CCG, and Gosport Primary Care Alliance.

Dr Donal Collins, who chairs a steering group relating to the initiative, said: ‘We know that local people have told us they want to see GPs and other health and social care staff working more closely together and this is something we very much want to achieve too. People would like to access GP appointments more easily, and to have the choice of convenient alternatives such as telephone and online consultations.’

He added: ‘Establishing common ways of working and sharing expertise has to be in everyone’s interest. Our first stage has been for all 11 practices to agree a collective vision for an accessible, high quality and comprehensive health and social service for the people we serve.’

The news comes after BMA warned that over a third of GPs across the UK are considering retiring in the next five years.