TWO GP surgeries will merge at the beginning of April.

Ash Trees surgery in Carnforth and Milnthorpe's Stoneleigh surgery are going ahead with plans to combine their practises due to higher demand and a shortage of staff members in the Milnthorpe surgery.

The surgeries aim to work together to serve their communities in a more efficient manner, stemming from their history of cooperation and partnership.

A spokesman for Ash Trees surgery said: “We are commencing a formal consultation about the possibility of merging Ash Trees and Stoneleigh Surgeries into one.

"A merger would mean that the practices would have a combined patient list and patients would have access to care across both sites.

“All six sites currently used by the two practices will continue to be used by the single practice after the merger”.

Graham Atkinson, practise manager for both surgeries, said: “A proposal for a merger is currently underway between our practices.

“We are looking to see the final decision at the end of March and complete the merger on April 1. Our two practices have worked closely together for over a year now due to the increase of appointments in Stoneleigh and after a number of staff retired from the practice leaving only two remaining, Stoneleigh approached Ash Trees with the proposal to work closer together”.

Mr Atkinson also addressed the possible concerns members of the public may have regarding the merger.

“Change can generate some concern.

“As both surgeries are working on different computer systems we are looking to finish merging them together thereby ensuring a good standard of practice is continued.

“Yet during our partnership over the last year, Stoneleigh has managed to continue it offer all services to the public since we started working more closely together. This merger should be a seamless transition”.

Ash Trees surgery has more than 18,000 registered patients and Stoneleigh more than 6,500.