Gateshead GP practices plan merger as doctors face 'difficult times' and 'increasing pressure'

Teams and Glenpark medical practices are going to merge in July, subject to approval
Teams and Glenpark medical practices are going to merge in July, subject to approval -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle / Google

Two Gateshead GPs' practices are planning to merge, citing "difficult times" and the "increasing pressure" on both the NHS as a whole and general practice specifically.

The GP partners at Glenpark and Teams medical practices - serving patients in the Teams and Dunston areas - will become one practice on July 1, subject to approval from the North East and North Cumbria NHS Integrated Care Board. The practices are now seeking feedback from patients and to answer any questions they may have.

On the Teams Medical Practice's website, Drs Mark Dornan and Stephanie Zamoyski have explained why they are planning the merger. They said: "The NHS, in particular General Practice, is under increasing pressure. We need to look at innovative ways to provide high quality care for our patients and new ways of working at scale to be sustainable.

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"The partners at Glenpark and Teams share similar values and are geographically very close, with overlapping practice boundaries. This is an exciting opportunity which will help to create a stable partnership and sustainable, long-term primary health care."

There are no redundancies proposed as part of the plan, while the new partnership will run GP services from both practices' existing premises. A six-week engagement period has now begun, with partners at both practices telling patients the decision had come after "several months of careful consideration".

A dedicated website discussing the merger with patients and allowing them to give feedback has been set up - with partners at both practice saying: "We are clear that a merger is the best way forward, and we want to ensure patients at both practices are fully informed and can have their questions or concerns answered."

They believe the merger will offer more choice for patients, a bigger clinical team, modern ways of working, and a "sustainable, integrated practice".

This is not the first GP practice merger to be proposed this year. In January, a trio of GP practices on the North Tyneside coast - in Whitley Bay and North Shields, also proposed merging. This comes as earlier this month, GPs part of the British Medical Association (BMA) launched a formal dispute over funding for general practice.

The BMA warned medics could stage industrial action unless changes are made to the proposed contract under which GPs work. The union said the contract, which will see services given a 1.9% funding increase for 2024/25, means many GP surgeries will struggle to stay financially viable.

A referendum carried out by the union found that 99% of 19,000 GPs rejected the new contract. At the time, a Government spokesperson said: "“GPs and their teams are at the heart of our communities, and we hugely value their vital work.

“The Government listened to feedback from general practice and the new contract will provide the biggest reduction of unnecessary and burdensome bureaucracy in 20 years, so they can spend more valuable time with their patients, while also giving them greater autonomy to run local practices.

“Further pay uplifts may be made to the GP contract following the Government’s response to the independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists Remuneration.”