Plans For The Future FAQs
Our planned move to a new site and health facility in 2022
On 27 February 2019 the Alchester Medical Group announced that it plans to move to a brand new health facility on the edge of Bicester in three years’ time. You will find more about this and regular updates on our website
From 2022 both Alchester Group and Montgomery-House Surgery, which is also moving, will both operate from the new facility while remaining as two separate practices, just like now.
Although it is still early days for our plans, here are some answers to questions you may ask.
Q. Why is any change necessary?
The main reason is that Bicester needs to expand its healthcare provision as existing space is limited, an aging population is putting even more demands on services and 20,000 to 30,000 more people will come to live here under the already agreed housing growth. The changes announced provide a brand new healthcare hub and a model of healthcare provision that should be sufficient for 20 or 30 years.
Q. So will the site be at Kingsmere or will it be at Graven Hill?
We are currently at a delicate stage in the negotiations for a site. We have a choice but it is important that we make the right one and we will inform people of where it is just as soon as we can. We expect this to be within weeks. The final decision will be based on a number of factors such as: value for money, availability and location.
Q. Why not put extra smaller GP practices into Bicester instead of creating large health hubs?
Internal space and limited land availability are factors that don’t allow this to be possible.
And it’s not the way that things are going in national healthcare structure. There’s a clear model emerging of funding larger health hubs and neighbourhoods that have more staff, better facilities and can better serve more patients. Smaller practices are financially more expensive to run and often are unable to access more specialist services.
Q. Isn’t this a downgrade of health services for Bicester patients?
It is absolutely not a downgrade. This will be a significant improvement that will be sustainable over the long term and take account of Bicester’s growing population. We are growing the service and expanding. This change is about providing enhanced additional services for Bicester patients and protecting the future of its local GP services for everyone.
Q. Is this a MERGER of the Alchester Medical Group and Montgomery-House practices?
No - this is not a merger and it would be completely wrong to describe it in that way. Both practices will be expanding their work and the number of patients they can serve. We will work as two practices on one larger site, but have the advantage of being able to work closely together to develop expertise and share allied health resources.
Q. Will there be more or fewer jobs in the practices as a result of the move?
The exact number of staff required will not be known until much nearer the time of the opening of the new health facility. But with Bicester’s population growing very significantly with each passing year and our ambitions for better healthcare it would be reasonable to expect we will need more staff on site than we currently both employ.
Q. When will existing premises close and what will happen to the buildings?
It’s still too early to say exactly when the premises will close and we’ll need to carry out careful negotiations that’ll ensure the quality and quantity of healthcare is not adversely affected in any way between now and when we’re fully open on the new site, expected to be in 2022. Most of the existing buildings are leased so what happens to them will be up to the current landlord.
Q. How many doctors and staff will be in the new AMG/MHS hub when it opens?
We cannot yet say but there will certainly need to be more doctors than we have at present and working in a brand new multi-facilitated health hub in Bicester should be an attractive incentive towards recruiting doctors who will want to work for our practices. Each practice is made up from a large variety of specialist clinicians (doctors, nurses, and healthcare assistants) as well as support staff to ensure the practices are run efficiently and effectively. It is also hoped to begin to include staff from other health disciplines more in the practices as they grow, such as pharmacists, counsellors, paramedics etc All of these will gradually increase in number as the size of each practice grows.
Q. Will I be able to see my own doctor regularly or will it be different doctors when I visit?
We recognise that seeing the same doctor is important for some patients and we encourage patients to see their usual GP whenever possible, especially with ongoing issues. We do though maintain the flexibility for patients to see another doctor should they wish to and we see this continuing with the new facility.
Q. Will the waiting times for a regular appointment change?
There are always many factors that determine what the waiting time for an appointment will be. We’d hope that with more doctors in the practices the waiting times for appointments will meet with patients’ expectations and could even be better than now. The facility will also provide the opportunity for better same day access for minor illness/urgent issues, which in itself will free up GP time to see those patients with more complex and ongoing issues both sooner and for longer.
Q. Will my records be shared between both AMG and MHS when they are both on the same site?
The confidentiality of medical records is strictly adhered to, so each practice would NOT have access to the medical records for the other practice. When a shared facility is used, as with the current Same Day HUB that all Bicester practices use as a place where patients may be sent, patients can give the consent for their medical records to be viewed by the clinician there for that appointment.
Q. What services will be gained or added to help reduce patient journeys to Oxford and Banbury?
This is an important and sensitive matter that requires more close discussion before the hub opens. But we are confident that Bicester patients will see significant change with more treatment and other services coming closer to home and being sited at the hub. This will help people avoid some of those journeys for treatments or appointments in Banbury or Oxford that involve travelling along some of the county’s busiest roads.
Q. Will patients be able to change to another practice if they wish e.g. to Bicester Health Centre or from there to the new hub if they prefer somewhere with more car parking?
Changing to another practice is a right that all patients have. We recognise patients have different needs and different preferences when it comes to where they wish to go.
Q. How much car parking will there be on the new site?
The sites we are looking at for the new hub have a large provision for car parking. This should be a benefit for both patients and staff. We’re sure that people who need to drive to their appointments will be very pleased with the parking facilities that we’ll have in future.
Q. How will people who don’t drive or have a car be able to travel to and from their appointments?
We recognised this will be an issue, just as it is now for many people as bus routes don’t always run in the right places or buses aren’t as frequent as patients like. We are going to work closely with all those involved in transport, and pedestrian and cycle routes including Town and County Council and the Bicester Healthy New Towns Project with an aim to getting what patients will need.
Q. Will there be a pharmacy on site?
That is something we’re currently exploring and we’ll communicate if that’s possible.
Q. Will patients need to re-register with their current practice or another before the new hub opens?
Patients will not need to re-register. All existing patients will remain with their current practice as this is purely a short distance relocation to a new health facility.
Q. How will patients be kept informed of what’s happening?
We’re fully committed to keep our patients well informed through all the regular channels. So through our contacting the media and them covering our developments and of course through our surgery information, websites and social media channels. We also plan to hold public meetings for patients to meet our teams and for them to put forward their views and ideas. We hope many patients will be excited to join us for these meetings and by the plans we have.
27 February 2019