We are now pleased to announce that Sunderland GP Alliance Limited will be the new service provider for the Encompass, Barmston and Pennywell GP practices from 1st October 2016. Intrahealth Limited will continue to provide the services up to 30th September 2016.

Patients of the practices have already received a letter confirming the situation. As stipulated in the letter, there will be no gap in provision of services from your current GP practice provider to the new one, and you will not need to take any action as you will continue to be registered at your practice.

From 1st October 2016, patients registered at the practices will be able to access services at the following sites:

• The Galleries Health Centre, Washington, NE38 7NQ;

• Barmston Medical Centre, Westerhope Road, Washington, NE38 8JF;

• Pennywell Medical Centre, Portsmouth Road, Pennywell, Sunderland, SR4 9AS.

Both staff and patients will be a key focus for the transfer of service. To help support the transition, we will be working closely with all parties concerned in an effort to ensure the handover is completed as smoothly as it is intended.

From the 1st October 2016, we will continue to work with staff and patients to further enhance the services provided.

Sunderland GP Alliance is an organisation whose purpose is to improve services within General Practice. We are owned by 85% of GPs in the city, covering nearly 250,000 patients, and the small number of practices who are not currently members are free to join at any time. We are clinically led, by an elected Board of Directors, who all run successful practices within Sunderland. We are not in business to make a profit, but rather to improve General Practice, and should we ever make a surplus, we have made a clear commitment to reinvest that back into Primary Care.

For instance, in the last twelve months, by working with key partners such as NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, we have recruited ten new GPs to the city in a time of GP shortage, and eight pharmacists to help relieve some of the burden on the clinical workforce. We have brought additional services into the General Practice sector that, for example, reduce patient waiting times for ECG monitoring, and that will help diagnose up to 1,200 patients with undetected Atrial Fibrillation, preventing up to 20 strokes per year. At the same time, we have attracted over £2m of national funding to the city dedicated to improving patient services.

Finally, we would like to thank patients and staff for their patience and understanding throughout the uncertainties of the past year. We have added a patient frequently asked questions (FAQs) page for patients to refer to with any queries.

This will be updated with any further questions we receive over the coming weeks. Alongside this we will also be attending patient groups to facilitate any further questions you may have, but please do contact us with any queries.