The move continues the collaborative work that is happening under the Better Local Care programme. All four practices are already involved in successful joint initiatives such as the Same Day Access Service at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital, which offers patients of participating practices same-day appointments with a range of clinicians, signposting to other services, and combined Child Health Clinics for new mums which provide an opportunity to see a Health Visitor, the GP and the Practice Nurse all in the same morning.
There are currently no planned changes to services for patients – initially, patients will remain registered with their own surgery but from the summer they will be able to benefit from increased access to other sites and their respective specialisms should they wish to do so.
The merger comes as falling GP numbers and a lack of replacement GPs has led to many Gosport practices being under increased pressure.
Dr Stuart Morgan, a GP and the group’s clinical lead, said: “We are very pleased to now come together as The Willow Group. This is a positive move for patients, as we are addressing the difficult situation we have been facing in Gosport in the past 18 months in terms of GP recruitment.
“We strongly believe that by working as one organisation we will improve resilience to the capacity challenges we’re experiencing, and not only improve access to care for our residents, but also the range of care we can deliver.”
The Willow Group is part of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. Brune Medical Centre and Forton Medical Centre have been in partnership with Southern Health since 2016 and Waterside Medical Centre and Stoke Road Medical Centre joined the trust in 2017.