First day in new chapter for Newport Health Centre
01 October 2019

The first merger of GP practices on the Isle of Wight took place as planned today (Tuesday October 1).

Carisbrooke Medical Centre and the Dower House Surgery, Newport, have joined forces in a move to help ensure the long-term sustainability of services for their patients.

The merger, announced to patients earlier this year, has been approved by NHS Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The two practices are now operating as the Newport Health Centre. Both sites have remained open and there are no job losses.

GP partners strongly believe the two mergers are in the best interest of patients at a time of growing demand and pressures on primary care services with people living longer - including many with more complex long-term health conditions.

It will help them offer patients a bigger pool of clinical skills and staffing resources – and far greater resilience, with more robust cover for staff holiday leave and sickness.

It is hoped that other benefits will include: * a better range of appointments, with patients being offered appointments at either site * the ability to be able to develop new services, bring in other health professionals to be able to meet their patients’ diverse needs * a better ability to recruit and bring in a range of GPs who have other skills, such as dermatology and mental health – again better meeting their patients’ needs * developing specialist administrative teams to deal more efficiently with patient requests.

The two practices are already working closely together, and the merger will help build on existing relationships.

In 2018, Dower House Surgery and Carisbrooke Medical Centre launched a new minor illness service to help meet the demand for same-day appointments – and commissioned a musculo-skeletal service (MSK) and piloted a prescription ordering service.

Dr Tim Whelan, a GP from Dower House, said: “Together, our two practices will be much stronger to face the future challenges that lie ahead for primary care services – and help us plan ahead for the new primary care networks that are being introduced across the country.”

Dr Judith Moore, a Carisbrooke GP, said: “This is a good news story for patients. Whilst some of our specialist clinics may only be available at one site, in general our patients will in future have greater choice by choosing which medical centre they attend. “

Alison Smith, the CCG’s Managing Director, said: “The face of primary care is changing across the country, not just on the Island, with practices either merging - or working more closely together in Primary Care Networks - so they can continue to offer the best possible health services to the communities that they serve.”

Cllr John Nicholson, who chairs the Isle of Wight Council Policy & Scrutiny Committee for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “We support this initiative, seeing it as a wholly constructive and progressive step, one in which everyone stands to gain from improved services, resources and resilience.

“This is certainly a pattern that we would wish to encourage and demonstrates a level of positive engagement within the service that is both refreshing and reassuring.”