Merger of three of Chiswick’s GP practices delayed as patients seek “proper consultation”

Image above: Grove Park Surgery

Patients have not had to opportunity to examine and understand the proposals, say Grove Park Patients’ Group

The merger of three GP practices, expected to go through ‘on the nod’ on Monday (25 September) has been delayed, as patients from the Grove Park Surgery seek “proper consultation.”

The merger of Wellesley Road, Grove Park, and Chiswick Family Doctors surgeries was expected to be rubber stamped at a meeting of the North West London ICS – ‘Integrated Community Care System’, which oversees GPs’ contracts, but Chair of the Grove Park Surgery Patients Group James Armitage told The Chiswick Calendar patients had not had sufficient opportunity to examine or understand what the merger would mean.

The three surgeries want to combine their resources under the banner of the newly formed ‘Chiswick Medical Practice’. Announcing the merger on Thursday 14 September via a text message sent to registered patients of the three practices, patients were supposed to have been informed about the proposed merger, outlining the benefits they could expect, although the Grove Park Surgery patients we have spoken to said they did not receive the text.

The merger, set to streamline and optimise services, promises patients access to a broader range of clinicians, nursing staff, and healthcare assistants. The three practices anticipate offering increased appointment availability, more proactive care, reduced call queues, and improved handling of requests.

Patients would still have the option to be seen by their regular GPs and clinical staff. A single unified website is planned, to provide patients with comprehensive information about Chiswick Medical Practice and its array of services.

Images above: Wellesley Road practice; Computer Generated Image of the new health centre being built at Fisher’s Lane, where Chiswick Family Doctors Practice will be based

“We want to support the surgery, but we are objecting to them steam-rollering it through”

The North West London ICS, in whose area Chiswick’s health services are, met on Monday (25 September) and were expected to rubber stamp the decision, but it has now been held over until the next meeting in three months’ time to allow more time for consultation as a result of the complaint by the Grove Park Surgery Patients Group.

GP surgeries are private entities contracted by the ICS to provide services. Any merger has to be approved by them and patients’ views have to be taken into consideration.

“The papers were prepared last week, seeking approval” James Armitage told us. “We knew there was a merger happening, but we were expecting to be consulted about it.”

The public is allowed to witness meetings of its ICS but not to participate, although the publicised link supposed to enable people to view Monday’s meeting was not working.

Grove Park Surgery has a video on its website explaining the changes and a rudimentary questionnaire, but said Mr Armitage, the video was not informative enough, it was not a “serious” survey, and there was not enough time to answer it.

James Armitage

“As far as I could tell, it was only up for three days before they put their report in.”

The Patients Participation Group at Grove Park, which has a committee of nine people, would like patients to be consulted “properly”, he said.

“I don’t want to stand in their way. I am not qualified to say whether it’s a good or a bad thing. I just want to find out the pros and cons and let people know.”

The NHS requires every practice to have a Patients Participation Group, but part of their problem, Mr Armitage told us, is reaching the 8,000 patients who use Grove Park Surgery.

“We are not representative of patients. That is something we want to address and need their help with. We want to support the surgery, but we are objecting to them steam-rollering it through without seeking opinions.”

Grove Park Surgery currently caters to 8,640 registered patients, according to its current website, and employs seven doctors. Wellesley Road serves 7,843 patients with six GPs, while Chiswick Family Doctors Practice looks after 4,593 patients and has three doctors. With the merger, the combined practice would be managing the healthcare needs of approximately 20,000 people.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar