The five GP practices in Workington have been given approval to start working together more formally.

Before Christmas the practices shared their plans to merge with the community.  The teams have now been given the go ahead by NHS England to start this work.

Dr Niall McGreevy, the lead GP for Workington Primary Care Network, said: “This is really good news for our practices and means we can now start some of the work behind the scenes to make it easier for our teams to work together.

“We already do this as part of our Workington Primary Care Centre, our shared home visiting service, and of course, the covid vaccine roll-out.

“It means we can do some of the bigger pieces of work like developing a single shared patient list and standardising our medicines policies and processes.  We can start to put some of the building blocks for a more secure future in place and do the work behind the scenes to bring the practices together formally.”

Patients will still use the same numbers to contact their practice and usually see the same health care professionals.

The feedback received from the community before Christmas will help shape the next steps.

Dr McGreevy said: “More than 700 people filled in the survey and we had people share their ideas and concerns in letters and through open forums. Some people have told us they are worried that it may become more difficult to access appointments, and that people won’t be able to see their familiar health care professionals.

“We fully understand these concerns and will use the feedback to help us shape the next steps when the time comes. We also heard how important it is to keep our patients informed as things progress and we will be doing that.”

Dr McGreevy added that the clinical priority remains providing primary care services for patients, and the roll-out of the covid vaccine programme for the community in Workington.