Proposed Merger Information & FAQ’s

Posted on:

Proposed Merger Information

Reach Healthcare is looking to merge with Medway Medical Group to help us continue to provide high-quality, local, GP services for all our patients. 

The proposed merger will make sure the two practices can work better together and prepare for the future. 

Modern GP practices are busy and our patients have a diverse range of needs. By making better use of our staff and resources, we can improve how we support our patients now and over the coming years. 

Accessing services under the proposals 

Under the proposals, our current sites in Walderslade, Lordswood and Balmoral Gardens would remain operational, providing uninterrupted services to our patients. Patients will be offered appointments at their nearest surgery, where possible. 

Services would continue without disruption, with the merger aimed at enhancing and expanding services, such as increased 24-hour blood pressure monitoring. Medway Medical Group brings valuable clinical expertise, including GPs and nurses who will join our clinical team. 

In terms of digital access, both practices are using Anima, which we appreciate, like all online consultation tools, can be challenging. It is an essential platform for helping us provide online consultations and reducing administrative work, and is in line with NHS England’s recommendations.  

Benefits of proposed merger 

We acknowledge the challenges this proposed merger will bring. Our senior management team has been supporting Medway Medical Group since September 2023, addressing issues highlighted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC has expressed satisfaction with the action plans and improvements in place. 

This has provided time for Reach to support Medway Medical Group and have seen a considerable improvement in patient care. 

There will be no reduction in workforce, in fact we will have a diverse workforce with different skills to improve patient experience and care We will also have a more stable partnership, which will allow us to continue to provide high-quality care to our patients at Reach and extend this to improve patient care and experience at Medway Medical Group. 

We are planning to have an open session so that you can come and ‘meet and greet’ the partners. 

We understand this can be unsettling at a time of unprecedented pressures in the NHS and all GP practice nationally, but Reach Healthcare sees this merger as a pathway to provide the highest level of sustainable care to our patients. 

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the proposal through our survey.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does the proposed merger mean I will not be able to access appointments?

No, we aim to create more capacity for you to access services. Medway Medical Group will bring its own clinical team so there will be a larger team to build on, and we can plan capacity based on the larger patient list size.

2. Why are we looking to merge with a practice who has been rated as inadequate by CQC?

Reach Partners and management were asked to support Medway Medical Group after its CQC inspection.  We have spent a large amount of time with that practice since September 2023.  In that time, we have seen significant improvements and positive changes. CQC have also had regular contact and are pleased with the changes, support and progress made so far. We would not merge with a practice that we felt was a clinical risk.

3. Will the merger result in more issues submitting online consultations via Anima?

We are aware that increased winter demand has impacted on the availability of Anima, this alongside clinical staff absence resulted in Anima filling up very quickly with 180 submissions being sent before 8:10am on some occasions.  So, we are currently reviewing our Anima process with the aim of keeping Anima open for submissions for a set period of time, and then Reception being enabled to submit routine requests at any time once the Anima capacity has been reached.

4. Will I be expected to travel to Gillingham to access care?

Reach Healthcare currently has a site in Gillingham, based in Balmoral Gardens. We will continue, as now, to offer appointments at a location based on the patient’s address.  The only time we will ask you to travel is for a specialist service that may only be offered at one site; an example of this is minor surgery or contraceptive coils or implants.

5. When will the proposed merger take place?

We are aiming for August 2024.

6. Will I still be able to make an appointment with my usual GP, Nurse or other healthcare professional?

Yes, we hope this merger will enable an increased focus on continuity of care, we value the one to one relationships patients build with our clinical team. A larger permanent clinical team will reduce the need for locums, therefore we can provide the patient population with a greater number of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, even in the event your usual Doctor or nurse is absent from work, you should be able to see another regular member of the team, who will be available to follow you up if required.

7. Will my usual practice opening times remain the same?

Yes, we are not anticipating any changes to opening times. We also expect this proposed merger to improve and extend our opening times in the future.

8. Will I still ring the same number to contact my practice?

The telephone number will remain the same. We may look into a single telephone system as a merged practice, however the number we would retain will be the Reach Healthcare number, any changes for Medway Medical Group patients will be a slow transition and will allow time for this transition.

9. Will the practice name remain the same, or are there plans to change?

We may look to change the name of the practice, this has not been decided yet.

10. Will the way I order my medication change?

No, there are no changes anticipated for medication ordering. We may improve this service with a dedicated back office at a dedicated site, with a direct number to speak to the team.

11. Will the merger benefit practice staff?

A merged practice with a wider pool of clinical staff will create a stronger more resilient team, staff will have access to a wider pool of knowledge from their colleagues and we will have far greater opportunities to specialise in key areas such as diabetes, elderly care, palliative care, safeguarding, long term condition management and urgent access.

We also anticipate that a larger reception and administrative team will help support the clinical team, therefore allowing more time to focus on delivering clinical care.

12. Will any service currently offered by my usual practice be removed?

No we do not plan to stop any service, our goal as part of this merger is to offer more services to patients to prevent them from having to travel to a hospital or community setting, we hope this will reduce waiting times and ensure patients receive the care they need quickly, for specialised services we would hope to run these from two sites, at each of the previous individual practice sites, therefore enabling access to patients living in both areas.

13. Will my feedback be listened to?

Yes. We really value the views of our patients and stakeholders. We want to provide the best level of care, and meet the needs of our patients and community. We want to understand your concerns and current issues with the service offered.