Future of General Practice in Hawkhurst - Northridge & Wish Valley Merger

Frequently Asked Questions – Premises Development

1. Who is responsible for funding the new surgery?
As GP contractors we are responsible for securing premises to deliver our services from – whether that’s a building that we own or one we lease space in. We are therefore responsible for identifying the finance (capital funding) needed for the new surgery - this could be through a third party developer or by raising the funding ourselves via a loan. Where S106 contributions are available, they can contribute to the capital costs of the build.
The NHS underwrites the capital cost by providing a rent re-imbursement for the space used to deliver general medical services.

2. Why do you need approval from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)?
General Practice premises developments, whether providing additional capacity from an existing facility or through a new facility, will mean increased costs and therefore funding must be identified and agreed.
The CCG has a responsibility for securing provision of primary medical services for patients and must ensure that all plans meet the strategic needs of West Kent. It is therefore important that our plans are reviewed in line with the CCG’s General Practice Premises Development Policy and processes in order to ensure that we obtain the required approval, which will include confirmation of re-imbursement of rent and rates.

3. What other sites did you consider and why didn’t you think they were suitable?
We considered the golf course site (included in the Draft Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Local Plan (Reg 18)) and the Hawkhurst Community Hospital site. Location and access were the two key considerations when looking at options and it was our view that neither of these sites offered the most central location or best access for patients, with more limited public transport available.

4.The golf club site has submitted a planning application and it includes space for community uses, which could include a doctor’s surgery. Were you aware of this?
Yes, we are aware that the planning application has been submitted recently and that it includes space for a community use.
The CCG has provided a response to the planning application consultation noting regarding a S106 financial contribution.

5. Can you provide us with more details in relation to your discussions regarding Fowlers Park?
We have identified Fowlers Park as our preferred site and our discussions will continue as we look to develop our more detailed plans.
We are unable to provide any specific details at this stage but will share relevant information as our discussions progress.

6. Are you already working closer together as practices?
The partners of the practices are having regular meetings and discussions, and are already looking at workforce when vacancies arise in terms of job sharing options etc.
We already work closely with other practices in the weald area to provide improved access to appointments in the evening and on a Saturday. As a group of practices, we have also employed a physiotherapist to support practices as a first point of contact for patients with musculoskeletal-related problems.
In response to the NHS Long Term Plan, we have formed a Weald Primary Care Network with other local practices. This will enable us to provide a wider range of services over time and receive funding to support some new roles, the first of which are a social prescribing link worker and clinical pharmacist this year.

7. How many GPs are there at each practice?
There are currently:

  • 2 (2 FTE) GP Partners and 1 (0.125 FTE) regular GP at North Ridge Medical Practice. Also supported by 1 (0.25 FTE) Advanced Nurse Practitioner.
  • 4 GP Partners and 2 salaried GPs at Wish Valley Surgery equating to 2.88 FTE GPs
  • In addition to GPs we have a wider clinical team including practice nurses, and Health Care assistants.

8. Will there still be a dispensary?
Both practices are currently dispensing practices and due to our rural geography, it is our intention that we continue to provide this service to patients who live remotely to a community pharmacist.

9. Will the surgery opening hours increase?
As a minimum we will open in line with the core hours of our contract 8.00am – 6.30pm. As our plans develop, we will explore longer opening hours for specific clinics or for providing services as part of the Weald Primary Care Network.

10. Will there be enough parking?
The Draft Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Local Plan (Reg 18) details that there will be sufficient public parking for use of the medical centre/ community facilities at our preferred site ‘Land at Fowlers Park’ (Policy AL/HA 4). We don’t yet have detailed plans drawn up.
We would always encourage patients and staff to travel to the surgery in a more environmentally friendly way wherever possible.

11. Will the new premises have air-conditioning?
We understand that new healthcare buildings should have ventilation and cooling systems that conform to the required healthcare technical standards. As we develop the plans, our professional technical advisers will ensure that the building meets required standards.

12. There isn’t currently a bus stop near to the preferred site, is this something that will be looked into?
Yes, this is something that can be explored with the bus company and highways.

13. Who will the developers be?
We are not yet at this stage of the project.

14. Has the green spaces and preservation been considered?
The Draft Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Local Plan (Reg 18) sets out the proposed strategies and policies for Hawkhurst and is subject to consultation between 20 September 2019 and 1 November 2019.


What We Are Proposing To Do

  • Over the years we have explored a number of options for a site for a new surgery in Hawkhurst
  • We have more recently explored opportunities as part of the development of the draft Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) Local Plan
  • We have identified a preferred site for a new surgery in Hawkhurst and are looking to develop detailed proposals for a surgery that is fit for the future and accessible to our patients
  • We are planning to merge our practices and form one new practice - est. Summer 2021.

Our Preferred Site

  • Location and access have been key considerations
  • Fowlers Park is our preferred site:
  • Enables new surgery to remain close to centre of Hawkhurst
  • 0.2 miles from North Ridge Medical Practice
  • 0.8 miles from Wish Valley Surgery
  • Accessible by public transport – 8 bus routes serve Rye Road
  • Capacity for more parking and easier drop off for patients
  • The draft Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Local Plan (Reg 18) identifies an allocation for a new GP practice (to replace existing two) in the policy for Land at Fowlers Park (Policy AL/HA5).

What Are The Benefits?

  • Sustainable and resilient General Practice provision in Hawkhurst for the future
  • Ability to recruit, train and retain GPs, Nurses and other practice staff within the area
  • Supports the implementation of a wider range of primary care services as part of the Weald Primary Care Network
  • New and accessible premises fit for the future
  • Premises capacity to support us to grow our workforce to support the growth in population.

What Does The Practice Merger Mean?

  • In simple terms a practice merger is a business decision where two or more practices join together to form a single practice and hold a single contract
  • We have started to look at what we need to do from a business perspective - for example aligning our systems and processes
  • From a patient perspective we do not anticipate there will be any significant change as a result of the merger itself. The separate proposal regarding new premises will mean a change for all patients.
  • Patients don’t need to take any specific action and you will remain registered with the your existing GP
  • The proposed merger is a couple of years away and we have given ourselves time to prepare. We will keep you updated and share any information relevant to patients as we develop our plans.

Keeping You Up To Date

We will keep you up to date via a number of different routes:

  • Regular updates on the practice websites
  • PPG meetings & PPG newsletters
  • Practice and public notice boards
  • Parish magazine
  • Keep an up-to-date list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and share this on our website and in our surgeries.

What Happens Next?

We will:

  • continue to share our proposals and seek feedback over the next couple of months – to the end of October 2019
  • review feedback provided and produce a summary including key points that will be considered, where practical, as we progress the more detailed work
  • continue our discussions in relation to our preferred site and start to develop more detailed plans
  • At relevant points in time, we will provide updates regarding progress.

The TWBC Draft Local Plan (Reg 18) will be subject to public consultation for 6 weeks from 20 September to 1 November 2019. The draft plan is now in the public domain as part of the papers to the Planning and Transportation Cabinet Advisory Board

  • We submitted our proposal to West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in April 2019 and have been supported to move to the next stage of planning
  • As our plans develop, they will need to be considered in line with CCG process and governance for new premises development.

Published: Jan 18, 2021