PARTNERS at a GP practice are leading the way forward with a flexible workforce to care for patients across two surgeries.

Amid a general practice crisis where surgeries are facing closure, a lack of funding and not enough new recruits, Botley Medical Centre is thriving.

At the beginning of April the practice in Elms Road took over the running of Kennington Health Centre after the partners there terminated their contract.

But the challenge of now delivering health care for about 15,000 patients has been seen as a positive one from the partners at Botley.

Senior partner Dr Aintzane Ballestero said: "We have seen this as an opportunity to provide really good care.

"When we learned about the partners terminating their contract we knew we could not leave those Kennington patients without any care.

"A priority for us is that Kennington patients have a practice near to their homes where they can access care.

"So we have taken on the costs of the building to make sure it stays open for them."

Across the two practices are a team of doctors, a physiotherapist, an advanced nurse practitioner and numerous healthcare assistants.

Partner Dr Diana McEwen added: "By having the physiotherapist we are able to offer our patients more choice.

"Rather than having to wait longer to see their GP they can be seen quickly by a physiotherapist for some injuries.

"By having a diverse workforce we can offer more appointments with staff who have a wealth of expertise to our patients."

Thanks to its digitised system patients' notes can be accessed from either site, irrespective of where they are registered to.

Dr McEwen added: "That means the patient has the choice of either seeing someone in Kennington or Botley.

"If we are busy in one practice, rather than having to wait for an appointment they could see someone at the other site."

Chairman and chief clinical officer at OxFed Federation Dr Ben Riley, a not-for-profit healthcare organisation, said the future of general practice relied on surgeries working collaboratively.

He added: "We are working closely with GP practices in Oxford city to develop new and innovative ways of working together.

"Our aim is to maximise the benefits of working collaboratively by creating teams of NHS healthcare practitioners with a wider range of skills and expertise, providing local care for patients.

"This approach offers a more sustainable future for GP practices in the city, as the demands on the NHS increase, and will provide an even better service for our patients."

Botley Medical Centre has also put in an application to Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to release £91,638 worth of section 106 money, following construction in Lime Road.

Practice manager for both Botley and Kennington Caroline Jones added: "We had to apply to the CCG to the release the funds.

"We are hoping we can use that money for an extension of our existing premises, we have our fingers crossed that we can start work soon.

"By having that extra space we will be able to continue to grow our clinical team and ensure that we give our patients the best care."