A west Suffolk doctors' surgery will merge with a village practice next week. 

The Unity Healthcare practice in Haverhill is set to join up with Long Melford Practice from Monday, April 1.

The move will ensure the long-term future of Long Melford as senior GP Dr Christopher Browning is due to retire within the next couple of years. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Unity Healthcare practice in HaverhillUnity Healthcare practice in Haverhill (Image: Google maps)

Both Long Melford and its surgery in Lavenham will become part of the same team as Unity, and the merged practice will be managed by the Suffolk GP Federation (GP Fed), which already runs Unity.

Dr Ruth Bushaway, GP Fed medical director, said: "This merger secures the future of Long Melford and will bring benefits for patients from both practices.

"They will now have access to the wider skill set on offer from a range of healthcare professionals working across both practices.

"A great deal of preparatory work has taken place to make the merger possible and staff from both practices are looking forward to working together.

"Dr Browning has been a part of the fabric of Long Melford for many years and is a highly respected GP.

"His knowledge of the local community is second-to-none and we are delighted that he has agreed to stay on for a while to help ensure everything goes smoothly."

East Anglian Daily Times: Long Melford PracticeLong Melford Practice (Image: Google maps)

Dr Browning said: “I am very pleased that the merger is going ahead and can assure Long Melford patients that they will be in safe hands.

“The GP Fed has done a magnificent job in Haverhill and patient access, quality, safety, and clinical care are vastly improved since it took over Unity.

“Patients will still be seen face-to-face at Long Melford and Lavenham where appropriate and will have access to a wider range of healthcare professionals.

“It is well known that GP retention and recruitment presents a major challenge for the health service and has led to surgery closures in some places.

“However, this merger secures the future of Long Melford Practice, and I am pleased to be able to play my part in ensuring it is a success.”

Unity currently has about 17,500 patients and the Long Melford Practice about 9,000.

Both the Long Melford and Lavenham sites will remain open to patients for face-to-face appointments where appropriate.