Proposal to merge Living Well Partnership GMS contracts together

The Living Well Partnership provides GP services locally to its 38,000 patients from a number of surgery sites.

One GP practice is within the city of Southampton, east to the River Itchen, and covers five surgery sites.

The other GP practice, known locally as St. Luke’s and Botley Surgeries, has sites in Hedge End and Botley.

The two practices already work together within one Primary Care Network (PCN).  A PCN brings GP practices together to work at scale to provide a wide range of services to patients and to integrate with other health and care service providers.

The Living Well Partnership operates the two practices with one clinical and management team.  It is proposing to merge the two practices together into one NHS contract. 

This means merging the two separate NHS General Medical Services (GMS) contracts held by The Living Well Partnership into one. The Living Well Partnership intends to submit a contract merger application to NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).  The application will be considered by the CCGs Primary Care Commissioning Committee (PCCC) in September 2021.

Both GP practices are run by the same team, but the separate NHS contracts require two different IT systems to manage records and work with patients.

The benefits of a contract merger would be to reduce the administrative work for both clinical and non-clinical staff and free up time and resources for the practice clinical team to see and treat patients.

The contract merger, if approved, would also allow patients currently registered with St. Luke’s and Botley Surgeries the choice to also attend the surgery sites in the east of Southampton, and Southampton residents will be able to attend the sites in Hedge End and Botley.

This proposal is only to merge two GMS contracts into a single contract.  It is not a proposal to open or close any buildings.

Patients registered with either practice will not experience changes to the GP services they receive or to the services they are referred to by their GP.

The Living Well Partnership has committed to working closely with both local authorities and other NHS providers, recognising the different communities and local authority areas served by the two practices. 

The Living Well Partnership will submit an application to the CCG in order to merge its NHS contracts which must include sufficient evidence of engagement with patients, stakeholders and the wider community, together with comment on the feedback received. 

The CCG is supporting The Living Well Partnership with its public engagement.  A key part of this is a public survey which is available for patients to complete here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Livingwellpartnershipproposal/

This survey will now run for four weeks.

If approved by the CCG, it is proposed that the contract merger would to come into effect on 1 October 2021.

We have compiled this list of frequently asked questions:

What is a CCG?

CCG stands for Clinical Commissioning Group.  The purpose of a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is to meet the health and care needs of our population. They are allocated a budget to achieve this and must use it to plan and pay for (or ‘commission’) health and care services from a number of service providers (such as hospital, mental health and community trusts and GPs).  CCGs are responsible for making sure that local people get the high quality health services they need.  Since 2015, CCGs have also had joint responsibility with NHS England for ensuring access to GP services for local patients.

What is The Living Well Partnership?

The Living Well Partnership is a partnership of local GPs delivering GP services for St. Luke’s and Botley Surgeries, and the surgeries at Ladies Walk, Weston Lane, Harefield, Midanbury and Bitterne Park in Southampton.

Will this mean my surgery will shut?

This proposal is only about merging two NHS contracts held with the CCG and not about closing or opening sites. 

We are committed to working with our patients and partners before making a decision on our sites.

Is the contract merger happening because we don’t have enough GPs?

No.  However, the benefits of reducing the administrative burden means we can free up more time for our clinicians to treat our patients and for our business team to promote our work to potential new GPs.  There are now more GPs working at St. Luke’s and Botley Surgeries since The Living Well Partnership took on that GP contract.

How far am I going to have to travel for services in future?

This is only a proposal to merge our two contracts together and not to close or open buildings.  Therefore, travelling distances will remain the same as now.

Will these changes affect other health and care services which I currently receive or may need to access?

We do not anticipate that there will be any changes to the services you currently receive or may need to access in future.

Patients of The Living Well Partnership will continue to be eligible for a full range of appropriate NHS services to meet their health and care needs irrespective of their resident address or which of the practices they were previously registered with before the merger.

There are some differences in the NHS providers available to patients currently registered at St. Luke’s and Botley Surgeries and those currently registered at The Living Well Partnership Southampton, e.g. district nursing services in Southampton are delivered by Solent NHS Trust and in Hedge End by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.  If you are already receiving care from another NHS organisation this will continue unchanged and will not be affected by the merger.

If you need to access care in future for another health and care need, you will be referred to the most appropriate organisation to meet your needs.  The service you are referred to may depend on what area you live in. 

If the merger is approved, The Living Well Partnership will work closely with the CCG and other partner organisations in both East Southampton and the Southern Parishes of Eastleigh to ensure your care is joined up.

The Living Well Partnership will work with other services to monitor the impact of the merger, if approved, and any unforeseen issues that might arise associated with access to services will be resolved.

Will there be more appointments at the practice as a result of the merger?

The merger will allow for reduced administrative tasks for staff and that means freeing up time for the clinical team to see and speak to patients.

Is this a done deal already?

We are committed to listening to the feedback of our patients, partners and local people.  The decision is to merge must be approved by the CCG and that decision will take your feedback into account.

Will I be able to choose which site I go to?

We are committed to serving our communities across the east of Southampton and Eastleigh Southern Parishes. Where possible we want to reduce the travel time for our patients to access our services, and at the same time provide the highest quality service. 

We also want to provide a service which is as convenient for you as possible.  Sometimes it may be quicker and easier to handle an issue over the phone rather than a face-to-face appointment.  On some occasions, a face to face appointment will be needed and we try our best to make appointments available at a number of sites.

Will the receptionist staff be trained to signpost patients to correct services?  For instance, will reception staff know I am resident in Southampton and therefore do not access Hampshire County Council services?

Yes, reception staff are already trained to recognise this.  There will be no change to this.

Will our social care services change?

No. Social care services are run by local authorities, not the NHS.  This means if you live in the Hampshire County Council area, these services will continue to be run by Hampshire County Council.  If you live in the Southampton City Council area, these services will continue to be run by Southampton City Council.

Will our maternity services change?

There will be no change.

What are the timescales of this merger proposal?

A decision on this proposal will be made by the CCG at a meeting in September 2021. 

Will you end up merging again with another GP practice in a few years’ time?

We have no plans at the moment and are committed to serving our existing patients.  This proposal is only about merging the two contracts we have into one.

Will I still be able to see the GP or Nurse I am used to?

Yes - you can continue to see the same doctors and nurses that you see at the moment.  Your registration with your current doctor will not change and you will continue to see your doctor as you do now.

Will we be expected to travel to other surgeries? 

You will still be able to be seen at your local surgery as you currently are. After the contracts merge we may be able to offer you a wider choice of appointments across all our sites to see a doctor or nurse if you are able and willing to travel to another site.

How will the practice provide enough appointments with an increase in patients?

Although our patient list size will increase, the merge will mean that there is a corresponding increase in the number of GPs and nurses, as we bring all the teams together.

We are also continuing our recruitment activities for both GPs and our Nursing Team. The practice team will regularly review the number of appointments available to ensure that we are able to accommodate patients.

Will the practice still offer the same services?

Yes – we plan to continue all current services.

Will I need to change my pharmacist?

No – there will be no need to change.

How will I make an appointment at the practice?

There will be no changes to the way you currently make appointments.

What will the practice boundary be?

The new boundary will include all existing boundaries.

Do I have to stay with the merged practice?

Patients are can choose to register at another practice, but of course The Living Well Partnership hope patients will wish to stay.

What is the impact of merging with St. Luke’s & Botley because they not in Southampton?

There will be no impact on patients or on the other health services you receive

Does the practice have to seek approval to merge contracts?

Yes, it has to have the approval of the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

What about the practice staff?

There will be no impact on staffing.  All staff already work for The Living Well Partnership, and so there is no impact.

How will we be kept informed of the merger and changes?

We will add new questions to this sheet and keep an updated copy on each of the practice websites.