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Proposed merger between: Southsea Medical Centre and The Devonshire Practice

We are planning for our two GP practices to merge this summer.

Our proposal is subject to the approval of NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning (CCG) Group, at a meeting on April 30th, 2019.

But, if the CCG agrees to the plan, we will formally merge on July 1st.

We have produced a QA (questions and answers) factsheet for patients – which we believe will answer most of the questions that you will have about the reasons why we want, and indeed, need to merge. It is available to download on this website, and hard copies are also available in Reception.

These are challenging times for the NHS, especially for those of us in primary care, with GP recruitment and retention in particular major issues locally and nationally, especially at a time of an increasing and huge demand for our services.

As a result, the NHS is having to change the way it delivers services – and who is the most appropriate clinician to deliver them. This won’t always be a GP, as it has been in the past. Other health professionals will be joining us, to make us stronger, more efficient and remain fit for purpose.

A great many practices around the country have already merged to improve their resilience, ensure they have enough staff in place to continue to provide the kind of service you rightfully expect and need AND to try to improve services where they can.

This merger will help us sustain our services to you, particularly during times when in the past staff holidays or sickness has adversely affected our capabilities and your access to us.

By pooling our clinical skills and staff resources, our vision to offer improved high-quality services – and access to those services.


Your top 12 questions about our proposed merger with the Southsea Medical Centre


As many of you know, the NHS in general and primary care in particular (the services offered by GP practices) is facing unprecedented demands for its services both locally and nationally, as well as challenges on GP recruitment and retention.


We are planning how best we can ensure that we continue to provide you – our valued patients – with the highest-quality services that you want and rightfully expect from us, both now and in the future. As a result, the partners of both Southsea Medical Centre and the Devonshire Surgery are proactively looking to formally merge with each other.


We hope you find this QA (questions/answers) factsheet helpful in understanding what this means for you as patients.


1) What is happening?

The Devonshire Practice and the Southsea Medical Centre are looking to ‘join contracts.’ This is a technical term, but we hope it will be the first steps to a formal merger between the two GP practices.


2) Has the decision already been taken?

The two practices are committed to merging – as we believe that is in the best interests of the future of both our practices, and for you as our patients, for the reasons outlined below. The final decision will be taken by NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at its Primary Care Commissioning Committee on April 30th. The CCG will need to be satisfied that this move is in the best interests of you, our patients. But it has been supportive of our plans so far – and already approved a number of other recent GP mergers in the city to help protect and safeguard NHS services.


3) Why do you want to merge?

As you’ve probably read both nationally and locally, GP practices are under more pressure now than ever before, with increasing workloads and a growing elderly population. There is now unprecedented demand for NHS services and, in order to provide long-term sustainability of services, a number of GP practices are merging – both locally and nationally. A formal merger has significant potential benefits for all concerned.


3) What are these benefits to us as patients? The main reason is our long-term sustainability – and to ensure our resilience that we can remain here to serve you at the heart of our communities not just now but in the long-term future.

   We strongly believe that by becoming a single practice, and pooling our clinical skills and staffing resources, that we will be able to offer improved high-quality services and access to those services. It will also help us provide much more robust cover for such things as staff holiday leave and sickness.

   Other benefits will be:

    • Access: The merger will enable us to improve our Advanced Nurse Practitioner led ‘telephone triage system’ across both sites, which safely manages same-day demand. The same-day triage system will be further enhanced when the Care Navigation programme is rolled out in June.

    • We will become a training practice which will help our staff us retain staff and attract new staff, especially GPs, in future.

    • The redeployment of our Administrative Team will enable us improve our existing systems. A new Services Team, PA Team, Care Co-ordinator Team and a Workflow Optimisation Team will streamline our behind-the-scenes services but, crucially, help GPs manage their ever increasing levels of paperwork – giving them more time to spend with patients.

    • For the first time, we will have our own in-house pharmacist, who will ensure that repeat prescribing processes are safer, better managed and provide an improved service to patients. This will also help GPs focus their skills on where they are most needed, such as treating patients with more complex conditions.

    • Two sites/improved patient choice: Working across two sites will ensure that services can continue if either site (Carlisle Road or Devonshire Avenue) is inaccessible. It will also give patients the choice of which medical centre they can visit to access our services.

    • Long Term Conditions team: Another new team will operate across both to provide a dedicated and improved service to patients with LTCs.

    • A new telephone system will improve how quickly patients can access services, increasing the number of calls both medical centres can receive and make – which will be e4ssential to the success of our ‘nurse-led telephone triage system.’

    • Premises: Patients will have access to a medical centre designed specifically for their individual needs.


4) When will this happen?

We are planning to merge by July 1 but much needs to happen between now and then – and, as mentioned in (2) above, the proposal would need the formal support of the CCG at a meeting on April 30th. We will announce its decision on our websites after the meeting.


5) Is this merger just a way of saving money?

Absolutely not – the merger will help us make the best use of our resources and it may offer us money-saving opportunities, but that is not the reason that we are planning it. This is about the staff at the two practices working together to ensure our long-term sustainability. The long-term sickness of a GP at one of our sites exposed how vulnerable we can be to unforeseen incidents.

   There are no threats to any jobs – indeed, as already explained, we are expanding our team; and we will be continuing to work from both sites, although the way we use our buildings will change as we look to make improvements to the services to offer.


6) Will I have a choice of which site I go to?

Yes, patients will have a greater choice of which medical centre they attend, although some specialist services or clinics may only be available at one of them.


7) Will I be able to see the same doctor?

We predict that this may prove to be difficult however if you are willing to wait then you can see a GP of your choice.


8) Will there be changes to the practice opening hours?



The existing opening hours at both practices are currently

- The Devonshire Practice 08:30 – 18:30

- Southsea Medical Centre 08:00 – 18:30


9) Will both buildings be remaining open?

Yes – as mentioned earlier, we have plans to maintain both buildings as part of our strategy, although we may use them in different ways.


10) Isn’t this just a take-over of one practice by another? No. We will be changing the name of the new merged practice to help demonstrate that this is a new start for us both – and we have involved both our patient participation groups in the discussions around this.


11) How will you keep me informed about any developments in this process?

We will post information on our website and keep your patient representatives on both PPG fully informed. Apart from our staff, the patient groups were the first to know about our proposals because your views are important to us.


12) Who can I speak to about this?

We would obviously like to keep our colleagues on reception as free as possible to help the smooth-running of our practice – and it’s possible that this QA answers your questions. But if it doesn’t, you can email Managing Partner Andrew Clarke at or leave comments/questions in our Comment Box in either Devonshire or Southsea Medical Centre receptions. If you want a response from us, please do leave us your contact details as we won’t respond to anonymous remarks. Thank you.


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