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Newton Abbot practices to merge

​Dr P​aul Johnson, a GP at Cricketfield Surgery, says the merger will benefit patients
A planned merger of six GP practices will see Newton Abbot and the surrounding area leading the way in patient care.

The practices involved are Kingsteignton, Kingskerswell & Ipplepen, and Devon Square, Buckland, Cricketfield and Albany in Newton Abbot.

After more than a year of working closely together, they are proposing to merge next year, creating a single medical practice organisation with multiple sites.

This will enable greater communication between GPs, who will be able to share learning and resources, and it will provide better cover for sick leave and staff shortage at the practices.

By sharing resources it will also mean that the patient population of approximately 50,000 people, who will be able to see their named GP in the same way they always have, will have greater access to more GPs on the phone and online when needed.

The Newton Abbot proposal follows similar changes that have already happened elsewhere in the country.

Dr Paul Johnson, a GP at Cricketfield, said on behalf of the practices: “All the practices in the Newton Abbot area already work closely together, so formally merging is a logical next step.

“By doing so, we will be in a stronger position to meet challenges such as the shortage of GPs and practice nurses, reduced funding, increased regulation and ever-rising expectations for offering seven-day services, 8am to 8pm, to an increasingly elderly population.

“Joining together will lead to different ways of working as we develop a new vision for General Practice in and around Newton Abbot, and we believe that this will be good for patients and our staff.

“Patients will, however, not notice any immediate change and will continue to see their named GPs and nurses in the same surgery premises.”

The merger is in response to the growing pressures on GPs and a belief locally that they will be able to deliver better care to patients, recruit, and retain doctors and staff.

GPs also feel they will be able to play a greater part in the provision of out-of-hospital care by joining together as a single primary care organisation.

Carol Brown, chair of the Newton Abbot Patient Participation forum and a Carer Ambassador for Devon, said the merger was good news for patients.

She added: “It may give GPs the opportunity to share particular skills across all surgeries, meaning that more patients could benefit and not necessarily need to go to Torbay Hospital to see a specialist.

“If I have to go to Torbay, either as a patient or as my husband's carer, it presents me with a large problem. I am unable to walk from the car park to the hospital building, so if a GP can help locally, then that is much better than having to travel to Torbay Hospital.”