Practice Merger 

Since last spring 2023, St Marys and Mulberry House Surgeries have been working more closely together.  St Marys is well-established GP practice serving the city centre and delivers services from two surgery sites; the main St Marys Surgery site is next to St Marys market and the Telephone House branch site is Below Bar on the High Street.  Mulberry House is a well-established GP practice serving the northern Southampton neighbourhoods and operates from its surgery site in Portswood, opposite Sainsburys. In November 2023, the partners at St Marys surgery took over the overall responsibility for the services from Mulberry Surgery.   Dr Barnes who had led Mulberry surgery for many years prior to November 2023 has decided to retire from his role in leading the practice.  We are pleased though to say that Dr Barnes will continue to work as a GP at Mulberry to deliver care for patients.   St Marys and Mulberry teams are now working together to help improve services for the future.  We are keen ensure that our services retain their local neighbourhood focus which we know patients value.  At the same time we will be looking to learn from each other and to develop some of the processes and services to help improve patient care and experience and to help the practices to be more sustainable for the future. 

We would now like to progress plans to complete the merger of services at Mulberry and St Marys.   NHS England who fund GP practices refer to the services offered by St Marys and Mulberry as two separate “practices”.  Since November these two practices have been operated by the St Marys partners and our plan now is to bring these together from 1st April 2024 to form one single practice.   This will help streamline some of our “back office” functions to help our clinicians deliver care for patients.    We will still deliver care from 3 surgery sites – those being St Marys Surgery, Telephone House Surgery and Mulberry Surgery.   Patients at Mulberry surgery will continue to access care from the Mulberry Surgery site and will still see doctors, nurses and other team members that they have been used to.  Similarly, patients who have traditionally used St Marys and Telephone house surgery will continue to access care from these surgery sites and see clinicians they are used to.   We anticipate that there will be no negative effects from the merger and we hope that patients will feel an improvement in services as we go forward.   

Also from April we will be working more closely with another practice called Victor Street which is based in Shirley.  The Victor Street partners share our values, have similar ideas to us and are passionate about delivering the best patient care we can for people living in Southampton.  We will provide further updates about our joint work with Victor Street as this develops. 

If you are interested in knowing more about these plans, have any questions or have any concerns please contact the practice.  You can do this by emailing us using our secure online form, by phoning our reception team or by popping into the practice.  We may need to take your details but we will get back to you.   In order to help understand these proposed changes, we have pulled together the following frequently asked questions (and answers) we will continue to listen to our patients and try to answer questions as they arise.  We will update this page as more questions and answers are added 

 

Initial FAQs for website and sharing 

Q. What is the difference between a GP partnership and GP practice and a GP surgery?   

A.  A GP partnership is a group of GP (and sometimes non-GP) partners who come together in a partnership to run a GP practice.  The partners are ultimately responsible for the running of the practice, employing the staff and the services provided.    NHS England has contracts with GP partnerships for the delivery of primary care services.  The services delivered under these contracts are referred to GP practices.  GP practices are operated by the GP partnerships and their teams from GP surgeries.  GP surgeries are the buildings. 

Q. Who / what is St Marys? 

A. St Marys Surgery is a well-established practice which has proudly served the inner-city communities of Southampton for over 100 years.  St Marys is run by St Marys Partnership which is made up of 5 partners, 4 of which are GPs and the other is a managing partner.  St Marys Partnership have strong values around delivering good care and engaging with our patients and the communities we serve.  St Marys currently serves 23,000 patients. St Marys has two sites, the main St Marys Surgery site is next to St Marys market in John Street and the Telephone House Surgery branch site is below bar on the High Street.   St Marys employs a range of clinical and non-clinical staff to deliver services to patients including GPs, Advanced Practitioners, Paramedics, Nurses, Health Care Support workers, Pharmacists, Health Coaches, Social Prescribing Link Workers, Receptionists, Administrators and more.   

Q. Have Mulberry and St Marys already merged?

A. On 1st November 2023 the St Marys partnership took responsibility for the services of Mulberry Surgery.  At the same time Dr Barnes stepped down as a Partner (someone who is responsible for running the practice) but has continued to be a GP at the surgery. 

Q. What are the plans for 1st April 2024? 

We would like to merge the 2 GP practices of Mulberry and St Marys.  This will mean we will have just one contract with NHS England and one list of patients (rather than two of each).  This will make managing the services more efficient and will mean we can focus more on patient care rather than back-office admin 

Q. What will change for me as a patient from 1st April 2024 as a result of the merger? 

A. You shouldn’t notice much (if anything) when the practices merge.  Hopefully any changes you do experience will be an improvement.  

Q. If I am a Mulberry patient will I need to go to St Marys for an appointment ?  (and vice versa) 

A. Quick answer is no.   Generally speaking, we will know which patients who were previously registered with St Marys or Mulberry.  Patients who usually have appointments at Mulberry will continue to be offered appointments there.    If a patient who was previously registered at Mulberry would like to have an appointment at St Marys or Telephone House, then we may be able to accommodate this.   In the future we may develop new more specialist services (e.g. physiotherapy or mental health services) and might sometimes offer these from one of our three sites.  We don’t have any firm plans for this yet though and would be interested in patients thoughts on this. 

Q. Will you be closing any sites? 

A. Quick answer is no.  We have no plans to close any of the surgery sites. 

Q. Will I need to see a different doctor or nurse to who I am used to? 

A. Quick answer is no.   As above we will know which patients have traditionally used Mulberry and which St Marys by their postcode.  We will also be able to see in patients records who their usual doctor or nurse is.  

Q. Will the services at my surgery change?

A. We will not be making any sudden changes to the way you receive care or access services.  Over time we will be looking to improve the way we offer services from Mulberry and St Marys surgeries.   This might mean that you have a different experience to how you access services now – but in all cases we will only be looking to improve patient care and experience by these changes.   For example, if you are registered with Mulberry surgery and have a long term condition, in future we will ensure that you will have a regular annual review of your health.  You will be invited in when this is due and we will share more information about this service nearer the time.

Q. Will opening hours change? 

A. No

Q. What about Victor Street what do you mean by working together? 

A. Victor Street are a well-established practice ran by a Partnership which shares the same values as us and are passionate about delivering good patient care.   We are intent on working more closely with Victor Street because we can learn from each other and play to the strengths of our teams.    In the longer term we would like to merge our practices.  In the meantime we will continue to work closely with each other for the benefit of our patients.  We will keep you posted on how this partnership work is progressing.

Published: Jan 19, 2024