We wanted to take a moment to inform you about an important development at our GP practices that will positively impact on the healthcare services we provide to our local community.
Hawkley Brook Medical Practice and Shakespeare Surgery have been working together informally for many years. We are fortunate to share the same systems, values, and ambition to supply high quality care. More recently our practice teams have worked alongside each other providing more resilience, flexibility and supporting us to deliver more complete care for our patients.
Recently we have chosen to take the next step along in developing our partnership and decided to join forces through a merger, to become a single larger practice, with the new name, ‘‘South Wigan Medical Practice,’’ and we wanted to share the details with you.
Hawkley Brook Medical Practice and Shakespeare Surgery are both located in the same building at Chandler House and belong to the same Primary Care Network. Both practices are of equivalent size, around 3200 patients each, and run identical practice systems. The merger has been carefully planned by the practices with your wellbeing in mind.
Why are we doing this?
As you will be aware, the NHS is going through some turbulent times, with increasing demand, longer waiting times and workforce shortages. In General Practice, we are equally impacted by these challenges that you hear about in the hospitals. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to maintain a high quality and easily accessible service for our patients for the years to come.
As two small GP practices, we are more vulnerable than larger practices, with changes in NHS, staffing or funding affecting us to a greater degree. As a joint larger practice, we will be able to support our patients and local community in a way that reduces our admin burden and frees up more time for you, our patients. Combining our resources and expertise enhances our ability to weather challenges and maintain consistent healthcare services, ensuring we are always there for you.
How will this affect me?
You will want to know how this will affect your care; We pride ourselves at offering guaranteed fast patient access to appointments and high-quality care. Our commitment to make sure this continues is unwavering and the merger helps us to uphold the high standards our patients have come to expect. You will still be able to see your preferred GP where appropriate, on their days of work. There will be no impact on your ability to make appointments, to being seen quickly or getting through the phone lines. We will continue to use Ask My GP in the same way, freeing up the phone lines for those patients who need to speak to the practice. We will take care of all your prescriptions, long term conditions and nurse appointments in just the same way as we usually do. We will continue to work from our existing premises, and all our staff will be staying with us.
As a larger team, we will be able to answer your queries and help you more quickly and more efficiently, and it will give you more choice about who you would like to see when you request a doctor’s appointment. We are excited about the possibilities this merger brings, and we are confident that it will only enhance the quality of care you receive.
There is more information including some Frequently Asked Questions below and on our practice websites.
Please see the link below to a Questionnaire. We would be grateful if you could take some time to complete this, sharing your thoughts, concerns, and feelings about the proposed merger. We will leave paper forms of the Questionnaire in each of our reception areas for you to return should you wish. There will be an in-person event on Monday 6th November at 6pm at both practices to discuss the changes in person- if you wish to attend please inform reception.
Shakespeare Surgery and Hawkley Brook Medical Practice.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will the location of the practices change after the merger?
No, both our practices are located in Chandler House, our purpose-built health centre, and we will continue to operate from the same premises from both floors.
2. Will my current doctor still be available after the merger?
Yes, there will be no planned changes to any of the doctors, nurses, or reception staff in the new practice. You will still be able to request and see the clinician of your choosing.
3. Will appointment scheduling and wait times change?
No, we are fortunate to be running remarkably similar systems in practice with guaranteed same day access to the doctor for all your health problems. This will continue in the future giving you high quality and quick access to the right care at the right time.
4. What happens to my medical records during the merger?
Your medical records will be transferred into the new practice system. This will be an identical system to the current practice, with clear information, governance and protection of your health data. You will not notice a change to your health record apart from the practice name.
5. Will there be any changes in the services offered?
No, all practice services will continue as they are currently, and you will be able to access these as before. You will also continue to benefit from all services offered outside the practice that we often refer patients to. We hope that as a larger team we can plan to offer a much wider range of new services from which you can benefit.
6. What should I do if I have a medical emergency during the transition period?
All routine, acute and emergency care will be provided as normal, with no break in the care you receive, and you will not be expected to seek support elsewhere during the transition. Please contact the practice as normal for all your healthcare requirements.
7. Will the contact information for the practice change?
Yes, it is likely there will be a single phone number for the new practice. We will share and promote the phone number should it be different to the existing phone number. We will look at interim solutions to divert old practice numbers to the new practice number, if this is required, to make sure all patients can still get through to us when they need to. There will also be a new website for the new practice, which will contain very similar information and a similar layout to the current practice website. There is also likely to be a single email address for the new practice which will replace existing email addresses. Any changes to contact details will be well publicised to avoid any disruptions to you contacting the practice.
8. How can I offer support, ask queries or express concerns about the merger?
There is a QR code/link above to a Questionnaire which will provide a chance for you to share your thoughts, ideas and concerns about the proposed merger. We would be grateful if you could take some time to complete this. We will leave paper forms of the Questionnaire in each of our reception areas for you to return should you wish. There will be an in-person event on Monday 6th November at 6pm at both practices to discuss the changes in person- if you wish to attend please inform reception.
9. Will there be any disruptions to getting my repeat prescription?
The new practice will need to be set up to connect with local pharmacies to make sure there are no disruptions to your prescriptions. We will work with the local pharmacies, Wigan locality colleagues in the Greater Manchester Integrated Care Care System and our practice pharmacists to try and make sure this process is as efficient as possible. There will be no change to the process of how you obtain your prescriptions.
10. What is the timeline for the merger?
We hope to be working as the new practice, South Wigan Medical Practice, by April 1st, 2024. Although we have set a date for the merger to be complete, we are mindful of potential delays that may be outside of our control. However, we can assure you that we will be making all efforts to meet this timeline.
11. Will the practice’s hours of operation change?
No, the practice operating hours will be the same (8am to 6.30pm), including the hours we operate Ask My GP (6am to 5.30pm) for you to put your requests through to be seen in practice.
12. How will patients be informed of updates regarding the merger?
We will offer the opportunity for all patients to share their voice as part of the merger plan and use this to help us shape the progress of the merger. We will use our Patient Participation Groups to support us with communicating any updates about the merger and will use our practice website to provide additional information.
13. What happens if I have ongoing treatment or medical conditions?
All ongoing medical conditions, chronic conditions or any healthcare matters will continue to be managed as before by our wide range of healthcare staff. There will be no disruptions to ongoing care, accessing the team or receiving your medications.
14. Will there be any changes in the practice’s website or online services?
There will be a new website with the new practice name and details. This will have a similar layout to existing websites, making navigating them familiar and familiar to navigate. Accessing Ask My GP will be the same through the new website. You may notice a change in our social media to reflect the new practice name.
15. How will the merger affect the staff of both practices?
The practices pride themselves on being good working environments, highlighted by both practices achieving the ‘Good Employment Charter,’ member status. We intend for there to be no planned changes to any staff across all practice teams. The new practice will also continue to collaborate closely with additional staff and services that support our patients.
16. Are there any plans for future expansion or changes beyond this merger?
No, at present there are no plans for further expansion or changes beyond this merger. However, we are mindful that influences for future change are often outside of our control, led by NHS England and the Government.
17. Where can I find more information if I have additional questions?
We will be hosting face to face meetings which are open to all patients that wish to attend to find out more or to ask any additional questions. The questionnaire linked below will also allow you to share any further questions you may have that have not been answered above.