A GROUP of GP practises in the York area have formed a "federation" in a bid to help tackle the demands they are facing.

Ten surgeries with more than 70,000 patients based in to the north of the city have formed the Vale of York GP Federation with plans to work together to provide the services expected of them and deal with the increasing pressures of an ageing population and financial cuts.

Plans to reduce operating costs include the possible introduction of centralised appointment booking and call handling.

Other plans include the setting up of an integrated care hub for patients with complex needs and plans for the federation to bid to be a lead or partner provider of mental health, community and out of hours services in the future.

In a report due to be presented to York's health overview and scrutiny committee, it outlines how practises have signed up to the federation in order to keep providing the services they have but to make operational savings the “buying-power” of a larger organisation allows.

The report reads: "The federation is focusing its efforts on establishing itself and ensuring the appropriate governance and management structures are in place, looking for operating efficiencies to support member practices and therefore ensuring their continued existence and seeking opportunities to provide innovative, high quality services for its patients."

Surgeries to have signed up to the Federation are Millfield Surgery in Easingwold, Petergate Surgery in Skelton, Pickering Medical Practise, the merged Minster Health and York Medical Group, Clifton Surgery, Tollerton Surgery, Helmsley Surgery, Stillington Surgery, Front Street Surgery and Terrington Surgery.

The federation has bid for £900,000 of Government funding to improve access for patients which could include the use of technology to deliver remote consultations.

Each practice has contributed 50 pence per registered patient to the federation to assist with its establishment.

This provides a “fighting-fund” of £38,268 to fund start-up and management costs, the report notes.

- Two GP surgeries, York Medical Group and Minster Health in Monkgate, York, have merged.

York Medical Group - which has 18,500 patients and sites in Acomb, Woodthorpe, Monkgate and York St John University - and Minster Health - which has 6,250 patients - have said the move will allow them to provide a better service.

There are plans for a single reception desk at the Monkgate site.

They will ask Wednesday's health overview and scrutiny committee to formally endorse the merging of the practises.