Haverhill GP practice set for a new way of working after management takeover

Dr Paul Driscoll, the medical director and chairman of the Suffolk GP Federation
Dr Paul Driscoll, the medical director and chairman of the Suffolk GP Federation

The future of the Christmas Maltings & Clements Practice in Haverhill has been secured following talks to bring in a new management team.

Suffolk GP Federation will take on the running of the practice in June.

The decision has been made with the support of NHS England and NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Dr Fiona Andrews, senior partner at Christmas Maltings and Clements Practice, said: “In common with other GP surgeries across the country, we have been looking at how we can make positive changes to ensure all patients continue to receive the very best care, both now and in the future.

“Difficulties replacing GPs, a rapid rise in the needs of a growing population and financial constraints at a national level have created a very challenging situation.

“The support of Suffolk GP Federation is a great opportunity to make improvements and ensure the practice is on a strong footing for the future.”

Patients have been sent a newsletter informing them of the change in management, while further communications are also planned with key stakeholders including Haverhill Town Council.

All staff at the practice have also been consulted.

Dr Paul Driscoll, medical director and chairman of Suffolk GP Federation, said: “The focus is very much on ensuring that Christmas Maltings & Clements remains a sustainable, local practice for the people of Haverhill and surrounding areas.

“The current problems can be overcome. Other surgeries have done so and we have excellent, modern premises and caring, committed clinicians.

“However, it does mean that the way Christmas Maltings & Clements operates will have to change. For example, we will be introducing more staff, such as nurses, paramedics and pharmacists, who will speak to or see patients where appropriate.

“The current way of accessing appointments will also change and patients will now have to book in advance instead of arriving on a ‘first come, first served’ basis as they do now.

“We also hope to make Christmas Maltings and Clements a more attractive place to work, helping with future recruitment and offering more support to members of staff.”

As part of the changes, Suffolk GP Federation will establish a Christmas Maltings & Clements Practice board which will be responsible for the future development of the surgery and include both staff and patient representatives.

Dr Driscoll added: “It will enable patients and staff to be consulted, take a view, have their say and contribute towards a range of decisions. It is the first time an employee and patient board will be responsible for managing a GP practice in Suffolk.”

Kate Vaughton, chief operating officer, NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a really positive step forward and one that we welcome. This change aims to secure good ongoing delivery of primary care services to people in the town.

“By developing new ways of delivering care and introducing more partnership working we can help address the challenges facing NHS services.”

Commenting on the changes at the practice, Parliamentary candidate for West Suffolk Matt Hancock said: “As Haverhill’s MP I have worked tirelessly with others to support the local NHS.

“I am a very strong supporter of the NHS locally and nationally. Everyone knows the GPS have been under pressure, and this news that Haverhill’s GPs will get extra support is very positive step forward.

“Alongside the extra money announced last month, this is all part of a clear plan to ensure we get better health services in Haverhill, and I pay tribute to everyone who has worked hard to make it happen.”

Suffolk GP Federation is a not-for-profit organisation. It represents and is owned by most of Suffolk’s GP surgeries.