Workington’s five GP practices have been given the green light to work together more formally.
Beechwood Group Practice, James Street Group Practice, Orchard House Surgery, Oxford Street Surgery and Solway Health Services have been told by NHS England they can press ahead with their plans.
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 practices asked people for feedback about the idea and more than 700 people filled in a survey.
That feedback will help shape the next steps, the practices said.
Dr McGreevy said: “We also 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.”