A BUSY medical group in Portsmouth faces an uncertain future as it enters merge discussions - potentially disrupting more than 14,000 patients in the city.
Hanway Medical Group, which operates centres at 2 Hanway Road and 81 Stubbington Avenue, faces a merger after two senior GPs are to retire next year.
The management team of the group 'strongly believe that a merger is the only available option,' according to a spokesman for Hanway.
He said: 'We have tried really hard to attract new GP partners to the practice in the last two years but have been unable to – and now we are also faced by two of our existing GPs retiring next year.
'Given this, we are having to consider how to sustain services to our 14,000 plus patients - and we strongly believe that a merger is the only available option to us to enable our remaining GPs to continue to serve their patients.'
Patients had not yet received a letter from the group to address potential changes to the service due to NHS guidelines about starting a consultation process before an election, with the next general election to be held on Thursday December 12.
There were concerns that a merger could see appointments take place at medical centres further way from residents homes, according to Charles Dickens ward councillor Claire Udy.
She said: I'm worried that we could see local GPs being subsumed by big medical practices. And those do not offer the one-to-one care that people expect.
'Patients at the bigger practices are phoning their GP and being told to go to the other side of the city to another site that is part of the same group.
'People that have mobility issues will find it hard to travel further to a different practice.'
One resident, who asked not to be named, said she would struggle to attend appointments for her four-year old son, who has cerebral palsy, if appointments were moved out of the area.
She said: 'My son goes to the Hanway Medical Group practices a lot.
‘At the moment, I can go between the two centres, and you can always get an appointment.
'But I don't drive, and my son can't walk, so moving appointments would make a big difference.'
An announcement about the future of the practice would be made in the new year, according to a spokesman for the NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group.
He said: 'We understand that Hanway will look to submit an application outlining its proposals to the CCG in the new year, which may include proposals about the use of physical sites owned by both practices.
'The CCG has a responsibility to ensure primary care services are available for patients in the city and any decision made regarding the application must take account of that duty and the view of patients.'