Merger Update: Application, what you told us and next steps
We can confirm that on Friday 10th March, the official application to merge Jesmond Health Partnership and Avenue Medical Practice was submitted to NHS England.
An important part of the application was for us to share with NHS England what you told us during the four-week engagement period. As well as sharing our findings, we thought it would be useful to set out the next steps and what it will mean for patients.
You can use the buttons below to catch up on the background to the merger and the frequently asked questions or jump to sections of interest to you.
Engaging with Patients
Our engagement period ran for 4 weeks from 8th February to 8th March.
During that time, we sent nearly 2,000 letters to Avenue patients and over 13,000 text messages to patients at both practices.
Our aim was to make sure we had shared all patients had a chance to find out what was happening, understand our reasons for merging, and have the chance to share their views with us.
As well as the letters and texts we sent in the first few days, we also made sure copies of the letters, FAQs and feedback forms were in the reception areas at all three sites, and that our display screens showed information and links to our websites.
In the last week of February, we held two drop-in events at Jesmond Library and invited patients to come along and have any questions answered. Around 30 people joined us at those sessions.
What you told us
In the four-week period, we received 92 individual responses from patients, both digital submissions and paper forms. 52 responses came from Avenue patients and 39 from JHP patients. One response didn’t specify.
Here’s what you told us.
- 34% of respondents had used practice services in the last week, and a further 37% in the past month.
- 93% of people described their experience as either good or very good. Only one person said they’d had a poor experience.
- The most important factor in accessing GP services was a quick outcome. It was the top choice of 53%. Next most important was seeing the same Doctor or Nurse – 26% of people put that top. Choice of location was the least important to you – 49% of people ranked that fifth of the 5 options.
- 88.8% of you said you understood the reasons for the merger. 7 people were unsure, and just 3 said they didn’t understand.
- 48.9% were unsure if the merger would improve services and access. 23 People said it would, and the same number said it wouldn’t.
- 37.8% of people said the merger wouldn’t present any challenges for them. 31.1% were unsure, but the same proportion thought it would create challenges.
- 49 people left additional comments, which you can read here. In summary of the themes, 22 people described generally positive experiences, and 7 people said poor experiences gave them cause for concern. The other main topics were worries over a less personal service in a bigger practice (7 people) or longer waiting times (6 people), with a further 10 concerned about continuity of care and seeing the same clinician.
We are very grateful for patients sharing their thoughts with us. While it is good to hear about positive experiences, it’s important for us to hear and understand people’s concerns.
We do appreciate a merger of practices may bring some feelings of uncertainty. We strongly believe the merger is in everyone’s best interest and will benefit patients in terms of choice and access whilst retaining vital continuity.
The formal merger application is now with NHS England. We worked proactively with NHS England to ensure our application covered the required information and that patients and other stakeholders could find information, have their questions answered, and have their voices heard.
While the merger is subject to final approval, we hope this will be a straightforward process and we can look toward an official merger date of 1st May 2023.
In the meantime, we will continue to prepare for the merger. Teams from both practices are meeting regularly and looking at how we combine ways of working to make it as smooth a process as possible for staff and patients. A big part of this, as we mentioned in the FAQs, is Avenue’s switch from the EMIS clinical system to SystmOne – used at JHP – so that patients’ records can be fully integrated and that important patient health information is available to everyone involved in your care.
We will continue to update patients as the work in preparation for the final merger approval continues.