Health mergers: Kingsbury and Cricklewood GPs unite as Brent CCG eyes link-up with seven other commissioning groups in north-west London

Two surgeries serving Kingsbury and Cricklewood have merged, which could see some patients start travelling further for their care.

Stag-Holyrood Surgery, in Stag Lane, and The Sheldon Practice in Chichele Road have joined to provide GP services as the Jai Medical Centre since July 1.

The Stag-Holyrood practice will be the main practice with the Cricklewood site being a branch surgery.

Existing patients from either of the old practices were automatically signed up to the new one, but may have to visit a site they aren't used to if their GP or nurse happens to be working there at the time of their appointment.

In a joint statement, the two practices said there were "many benefits" of merging practices. "We will be able to form a larger, more resilient practice in these changing times within the NHS," they said.

Patients will have a "choice of appointments" increasing the opportunity to access healthcare. Staff sharing skills will improve "back office" functions. "We will simply be a bigger team," they added.

The IT systems of the two practices will be fully combined on Wednesday. Phone systems will be updated and a call waiting system will be provided.

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Opening hours stay the same: 8am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday. There are plans to update processes to include online access to services.

Robin Sharp, chair of Brent Patient Voice, said patients will not notice much change in the short term. "However," he said, "they are a considerable distance apart and few patients of one would be likely to want to trek to the other if a specialist service was only offered on one site."

The move mirrors a much larger scheme by NHS chiefs for Brent's clinical commissioning group (CCG) to merge with those of seven other boroughs.

"Of much more concern is the planned merger of eight CCGs into one across north west London," said Robin. "How and if this will work and how accountability will be maintained are major questions we are pursuing with the powers that be ."

CCG bosses said in a joint statement: "We see this as an opportunity to accelerate and streamline our systems and processes, reduce duplication and improve the offer of care to north west London residents."