THREE GP practices are set to merge in a move which they claim will reduce waiting times for appointments and provide wider access to additional services.
Combining are the Arnewood Practice in New Milton, Barton Webb-Peploe Partnership which has surgeries in Lymington and Barton, and New Milton Health Centre which also has a small surgery in Hordle.
They will become the renamed Coastal Medical Partnership with a total patient list of 34,000.
All five sites will continue to operate under the merger and patients will still be able to see their own doctor, but will now have access to services at all three partnerships in the future.
The merger will begin in April next year but a full merger of all services will only take place by 2020 if approval is given by NHS England, the West Hampshire Clinical Commission and the Care Quality Commission.
A statement from the partnership said that at first patients will “notice little difference” and will continue their one-to-one relationship with their own GP. But the merger will mean that in future they can book urgent care appointments more easily and there will be a bigger pool of trained professionals, like community nurses, available to them.
A spokesperson for the surgeries said: “After careful consideration we agree that a merged partnership gives us the very best opportunity to give you high quality care and develop services for you locally in the future. It will also attract more great medical professionals and support staff that are so vital to general practice.
“Merging practices will improve health and social care closer to home, create more opportunities for patients to book urgent care appointments, embed long-term condition care as a cornerstone of future well-being, and provide more opportunities for greater staff training and development, including research.”
The spokesperson continued: “The challenges facing the NHS as a whole, and GP practices and their staff nationally, are well known.
“We are living longer, and people are surviving previously life-threatening illnesses. This is fantastic news! This also means that more and more people need their local GP, and the services we provide.
“The British Medical Association recently reported 200 practice closures across the UK last year.
“We are determined that this should not happen in New Milton and Barton-on-Sea. We are convinced this merger is the best way to protect your general practice.”
There will be a period of consultation and patients will be able to have their say at a special community event, for which a date is yet to be set.